FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Day They Shot a Wolf in the Ghetto and What It Meant

by Quoting The Dean Of Science. "We Are Saddened," He Said, "by The Use Of Violence

I say I saw her end, but I didn’t.
And how she began, nobody knows. In prison

is what the paper pretends: in a pen,
in a lab, with the gate half open,

and the wolf lunging out to get free.
As if that wasn’t just the lead tot heir story

but the start of her life. Which then took off
in a streak of gray across dark green lawns

— its ears pressed flat, its legs going hard–
so the students, walking, their books in their arms

saw something they didn’t understand sprint (fast)
across what they did. Before they could ask

what it meant, she was gone. Like a dream
disappears at the edge of meaning and means

something else on the other side. Except,
of course, she wasn’t a dream. As soon as she leapt

away from the curb,
she became what the drivers swerved

around: the kind of soft mistake that wakes the kids
or ruins the job or the marriage. The drivers did

what they always did: they leaned on their horns and kept
on going. Shaking, now, and wet

with panic, the wolf dove (blind)
into narrow darkness and ran for a long time

from alley to alley.
Parts of the world are like the veins in an arm: hit one deeply

enough, and it’s a disappearance.
The wolf submerged into pure silence,

till she came up, across town, in a garden.
Chlorine pools. Plastic fish. Iron
deer at absurd attention. A landscape chose
to look like nature but safer than that: frozen

solid. Green light slanting through planted trees.
She must have stopped there and sampled the breeze,

maybe licked at the blood between the cracks
in her paws, fooled into thinking she could stop and relax

by blending, like everything else, into richness.
But the paper, later, quoted a witness:

“I thought,” said the woman, “she looked kind of funny.
Panting like that. And without anybody.

So when she didn’t move, I called the cops.”
They spotted her there like you’d spot

an idea in the midst of a conversation.
And after that, came the wail of sirens

streaking across suburban blocks– smearing the sense
and symmetry– till she hit the link fence
by the railroad tracks. Where (foam streaking her back)
she crossed over. The winos, the women at the laundromat,

barely noticed her passing. “Take
one to know one,” they kidded later. Like the mistake

of the rookie cop when he asked
if they’d seen something dark and scared run past,

and everyone pointed in different directions
— towards the sewer, the projects, up into heaven–

till the cop had to drive away. They caught her, finally,
when the neighborhood dogs started whining

at the smell of fear in the air.
The cops simply cut off their sirens and stared,

and the howls of the dogs rose like a map
superimposed on the back

of the city. If the wolf has to be a symbol
of something, then the symbol now trembled
in knee-high grass. A vet in a pure white van pulled over:
in his trunk, a collection of tranquilizers–

on his hands, a pair of surgical gloves–
as if we became what we touched.

“We had her,” the officer said, “in a corner
and were attempting to take her alive, as ordered,

when she charged. And two of my men dispatched her
before she could do any harm. Their reaction,”

he added, “was totally normal.”
The paper, later, came up with a moral

by quoting the Dean of Science.
“We are saddened,” he said, “by the use of violence

and the subsequent loss of learning.”
But that wasn’t learning I saw in the grass, turning

over and over itself till it died.
Her body was carted back to the lab, untied

on a table for the students to study, and then
what was left of the wolf was abandoned.

Which is yet another end to the story.
Except, of course, there was still the body

and the meaning of that depended, again,
on how it looked (all cut into parts) and when

and where it was (on the floor). The way
I see it, in a single movement, they

dropped the wolf down a chute to the basement
where, in a plastic bag, she escaped.

Daniel Wolff is a poet and author of the excellent biography of the great Sam Cooke, You Send Me, as well as the recent collection of Ernest Withers’ photographs The Memphis Blues Again. This poem originally appeared in the Spring 1990 edition of Three Penny Review.

He can be reached at: ziwolff@optonline.net

More articles by:

Daniel Wolff‘s new book of poems is The Names of Birds.

Weekend Edition
November 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jonathan Cook
From an Open Internet, Back to the Dark Ages
Linda Pentz Gunter
A Radioactive Plume That’s Clouded in Secrecy
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Fires This Time
Nick Alexandrov
Birth of a Nation
Vijay Prashad
Puerto Rico: Ruined Infrastructure and a Refugee Crisis
Peter Montague
Men in Power Abusing Women – What a Surprise!
Kristine Mattis
Slaves and Bulldozers, Plutocrats and Widgets
Pete Dolack
Climate Summit’s Solution to Global Warming: More Talking
Mike Whitney
ISIS Last Stand; End Times for the Caliphate
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Darkness, Part Two
James Munson
Does Censoring Undemocratic Voices Make For Better Democracy?
Brian Cloughley
The Influence of Israel on Britain
Jason Hickel
Averting the Apocalypse: Lessons From Costa Rica
Pepe Escobar
How Turkey, Iran, Russia and India are playing the New Silk Roads
Jan Oberg
Why is Google’s Eric Schmidt So Afraid?
Ezra Rosser
Pushing Back Against the Criminalization of Poverty
Kathy Kelly
The Quality of Mercy
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Gerry Brown
Myanmar Conflict: Geopolitical Food Chain
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Robert Redford’s Big Game in Nairobi
Katrina Kozarek
Venezuela’s Communes: a Great Social Achievement
Zoltan Grossman
Olympia Train Blockade Again Hits the Achilles Heel of the Fracking Industry
Binoy Kampmark
History, Law and Ratko Mladić
Tommy Raskin
Why Must We Sanction Russia?
Bob Lord
Trump’s Tax Plan Will Cost a Lot More Than Advertised
Ralph Nader
National Democratic Party – Pole Vaulting Back into Place
Julian Vigo
If Sexual Harassment and Assault Were Treated Like Terrorism
Russell Mokhiber
Still Blowing Smoke for Big Tobacco: John Boehner and College Ethics
Ted Rall
Sexual Harassment and the End of Team Politics
Anna Meyer
Your Tax Dollars are Funding GMO Propaganda
Barbara Nimri Aziz
An Alleged Communist and Prostitute in Nepal’s Grade Ten Schoolbooks!
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Graham Peebles
What Price Humanity? Systemic Injustice, Human Suffering
Kim C. Domenico
To Not Walk Away: the Challenge of Compassion in the Neoliberal World
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Giving Thanks for Our Occupation of America?
Christy Rodgers
The First Thanksgiving
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “We Were Eight Years in Power”
November 23, 2017
Kenneth Surin
Discussing Trump Abroad
Jay Moore
The Failure of Reconstruction and Its Consequences
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Trout and Ethnic Cleansing
John W. Whitehead
Don’t Just Give Thanks, Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time
Chris Zinda
Zinke’s Reorganization of the BLM Will Continue Killing Babies
David Krieger
Progress Toward Nuclear Weapons Abolition
Rick Baum
While Public Education is Being Attacked: An American Federation of Teachers Petition Focuses on Maintaining a Minor Tax Break
Paul C. Bermanzohn
The As-If Society
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail