The Debutante

Things were going wrong.
Dogs roamed the streets in packs,
even rode the local trains across the city.
I took my violin, a can opener, two lipsticks, and a pistol
and joined them.

The quarter moon at night was like a dropped ice cream cone,
or the fat on a steak.
How we howled for it!
How we bargained, lunged, begged!
The moon was too far removed, and too composed to reward us,
and yet we still loved her,
like children.

Men came in special trucks to collect us,
but we ran!
We knew the way through every abandoned building and vacant lot. 
We knew who would help us and who would shoot us.
We knew who we could steal from,
and who knew our language.

I abandoned my former life entirely except for one thing--
I had to have books.
I would creep into the public library to curl up with a novel,
and if anyone disturbed me I would show my teeth and snarl.
Sometimes a man wouldn't leave me alone.
I would leave,
and he would leave,
and then my pack would follow and kill.

I told the dogs, did you know that I was once a debutante?
Did you know that I come from privilege and a desirable address?
That was ages ago.
Now I throw up where I stand,
and make no apologies.
I wonder what would happen if I showed up at the old mock Tudor now?
I have fleas and a chunk missing from one ear.
I frankly stink, and I eat without regard to ingredient labels or fad diets,
but I am loved and sleep like the righteous every night.

Things are going well.
Society is breaking down.
We come around every night and tip over the trash bins.
Our males mark the yards a little further in from the alley every time.
I have a pistol,
and may write a novel--
a paper one,
independent of any internet or e-commerce,
written in Dog.

You are my target audience.
The moon is almost down to nothing,
and we are coming, coming for you.
In the end, there will only be our white teeth,
lined up like priests
except without mercy, 
without a forgiving Christ in reserve for emergencies.


Jannie Funster said…
Are the 2 lipsticks different shades, or both of your favorite? Love the dropped ice cream cone quarter moon. Amazing last line. Amazing poem! I think I'll go ahead and read it once again.

TexWisGirl said…
gritty and fierce!
hedgewitch said…
I think this pretty much puts the diss in dystopian--one of your most evocative forays into that alternative universe, inside and out, where things are breaking downm o yes, but so are the bars, the collars, and the constructs, and if the price of freedom is fleas and a torn ear or two, why it seems hardly a problem. Love all the little details in this that make it deeper and more real.
Anonymous said…
What a voice! What a gruesome futuristic setting! What flow with just enough of a limp to keep it interesting with twists and turns. Absolutely fantastic work!
Sherry Blue Sky said…
I so love this poem. I need a book written in Dog. Those teeth lined up like priests was a nice touch! Loved her curling up in the library and snarling when a men came near. Sort of like me with my husband, back in the Day, hee hee.
Other Mary said…
That beats the snot out of Divergent and Hunger Games! What a distopia you've created!
Kerry O'Connor said…
So, so good, Shay. I could quote back bits I love and other bits I adore, but that would still not show how much I admire your ability to tell a story on a poem that can tear the heart out and make one cheer at the same time.
Susie Clevenger said…
What a story! You have the ability to take even the meanest part of life and find something to cheer about in it.
Kathryn Dyche said…
Wow, if I could be in your head for a day, what a trip that would be. Loved everything about this . . . from the things you chose to pack, to the description of the moon in the second stanza and the list goes on. Mad story skills.
HermanTurnip said… this is my kinda writing! Love the visual of you running around with lipstick and a revolver. There's just something primitive and anarchistic about that image that I really dig...
Outlawyer said…
Agh-- lost comment but basically agree with all above-- you tell a vey compelling story with such wonderfully particular details. I don't actually think it so uncommon for debutants to become dog people but maybe of a different sort. K of manicddaily
Lolamouse said…
May I lick your face?!!
Daryl said…
so have you read the Divergent series? this makes me think of it even tho its totally nothing like it … what can i say other than you nailed this
Mama Zen said…
I absolutely adore that next to last stanza. That's as cool as cool gets.
Anonymous said…
This is a wonderfully evocative & compelling narrative, humorous & yet edgy & disturbing.

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