A Boy, A City

That boy with nothing? He's the King of Dogs and Freedom.
It's the heat that's crowned him. He smells of sweat and mid-

Summer, and he's brushed by the down of roadway dust, but his
Soles are gentle maps—finely cracked rivers of umber earth, and

He wears his sovereignty in his walk. Old and middle-aged men,
Fat and napkin-bibbed behind restaurant glass as they swallow their

Foie gras and sip their Sauternes, forget how a boy can own
Without being owned. To them and busy citizens on the streets,

He is just another boy with nothing. Small matter to someone who
Sees the world as it is and must be because, the truth is,

His eyes, copper-brown and constant movement, hold keys to this
City's sun-seized walls, its oak doors buckled in bronze handles,

Its stone ramparts, gates, and columns, all ready for his review.
What no one else cares for, he picks up from the dirt and

Cups in the warmth of his curiosity. Stale bread heel? He shares its
Crust with the dog. Coin smoothed by time? He slides it into the slip

Of his pocket. The thinning one thinking about a hole. And
When he is tired, the shaded cool of a granite bench will guard his

Sleep from afternoon's soft heaviness. And when he is thirsty,
The sound of water—a jeweled rush jetting richly into the

Fountain's public realm—will call his name. There you will
Find him, this lifetime and next, forever boy slaking a

Forever thirst, cooling the brown reed of his body—restive,
Regal, reckless in the sweet beguilement of youth.


Darkness changes everything on a dock,
especially when the lake breaks
in ripple-speak like sleep
against rip-rap behind me.
Ears and eyes adjust
to the sound of water, to the slide of clouds
that let only rare, fugitive stars out
and, briefly, the red ember of Mars
being breathed on by the past
so that it flares warlike,
so that my brother—who once called this island
home—can return like Odysseus in disguise
to the loyal dog that is me.

KEN CRAFT’s poems have appeared in The Writer's Almanac, Verse Daily, Plainsong, Spillway, Slant, and numerous other journals and e-zines. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Lost Sherpa of Happiness (Kelsay Books, 2017) and The Indifferent World (Future Cycle Press, 2016). You can visit him at