The dogs are in the street, the wolf is at the door —
The feral animals of the suburbs,
A furtive anima that artisans explore
Who hunt beyond the countertops and cupboards.
Connoisseurs come hungry for the arts, the howl, the crush;
They feed on frenzy, but visitors are blind
To hidden inhabitants, to rodents of the mind —
That pencil gnawed, this clotted sable brush.
Beside the wheel mistaken for the potter
Where tools themselves are taken for the author
And lyrical hearts for bedsteads in a brothel,
The setting is the man: the sheen of awl and jowl
A scapula will scrape as well as a trowel.
The junkyard dogs are rolling in the offal;
A radio plays; coyotes croon their vowel;
Lives sniff and claw, and all the surfaces offer
Tracks of an inspiration on the prowl.
NOTES for Students of English
“The wolf is at the door” – An echo of the idiom “keep the wolf from the door” meaning to keep from starving.
Anima – (Pronounced like “animal” without the “l” sound) The soul.
Sable brush – High-quality brushes for oil painting and watercolors are made from the fur of the sable marten, an animal in the weasel family.
Wheel – Here, a potter’s wheel: a revolving, usually horizontal disk that holds the clay being shaped by the potter.
Awl – A pointed tool for marking surfaces or piercing small holes, as in leather, wood, or heavy cloth; used by shoemakers, saddlers, cabinetmakers, sail-makers, etc.
Scapula – The shoulder blade.
Trowel – A hand tool consisting of a flat, curved, or V-shaped blade with a handle, used by sculptors, plasterers, bricklayers, etc., to apply and shape material.