Collared

Something seems awful, like it’s snowing in August.

But it’s not August. This is January. It’s supposed be snowing.

But it’s not snow. It’s static. Not static. It’s a shock.

It’s a plastic shock collar turned up to 50, warm enough

to melt the snow from the lintels, warm enough

to melt the dog from the bone. It seems like a bone,

but it actually must’nt be one, supposes our dog in the plastic shock collar,

a gun to his throat that makes the bone on the street

as awful to eat as the snow that’s not snow but is plastic.

It’s the builder next door’s fantastic machine, dusting a winter morning in white,

the walkways and the rooftops and the gutter by the curb saying “January,” as

the trainer unleashes a rhetorical device: a plastic collar whose shock he calls “static.”

On the walkways on the rooftops in the gutter by the curb, it’s shocking how

polystyrene clings, while the builder next door treats me like a dog for my static.

“It’s snowing,” he says. “Be a good neighbor.” But he’s not my neighbor.

He’s the builder next door. Language is a building. An insulated building,

polystyrene snow gunned into its walls. Enter it. Shut the door.

Melt beneath your over-heated collar. Say “snow” and believe it.

Dust off the awful shock of this January. Or call a bone

a bone. Unleash your good dog, make some actual mischief on the street.

 

***

 

Betsy Andrews is the author of the New Jersey, which received the Brittingham Prize in Poetry; The Bottom, winner of the 42 Miles Press Prize in Poetry; and four chapbooks. Her poems and essays have appeared widely in publications including Fence, White Wall Review, Ocean Review, Laurel Review, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day.

 

 

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