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Wednesday, November 26, 2008


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

A very large man is walking a very small dog
Along the sidewalk in the business district of town
He may be going to the post office or to the store to buy a jar of mustard
And combining the errand with the dog’s walk for the day

At one end of the taut leash the little dog is all energy and alertness
Ears up looking around smartly and importantly
At the other end of the leash the man looks disconsolate shuffling along
Gazing at the pavement his large belly filling up the front of his Hawaiian shirt

Perhaps the man is thinking about the shattered economy
Perhaps he has lost his job and is wondering
How soon or if he’ll be able to find another one
And how he’s going to buy dog food and pay the rent

Or is he thinking about the weather and what it means
That a day in late November is warm and sunny and rainless
When by all rights it should be cold and dreary and wet
With storm after storm filling up the creeks and reservoirs

Not far from here are creeks where salmon return every year
And where the locals go to watch them swim upstream and cheer them on
As they hurl themselves against the current
Up waterfalls and the steps of fish ladders

Maybe the very large man with the very small dog was one of those
Who helped to build the fish ladders and maybe he is worrying
Not about his lost job but about what will happen to the salmon
As the earth warms and the creeks dry up

Or it could be that he is mentally counting the war dead in Iraq and Afghanistan
Or the corpses piling up in the Congo for our cell phones
He might be thinking about starvation in Gaza
Or the Navajo grandmothers being evicted from Big Mountain

Of course the dog knows nothing about the economy or global warming
About occupations and proxy resource wars and brutal sieges and genocide
But it does sense that something is wrong that its friend is in pain
So the very small dog is taking the very large man for a walk because

A dog understands how important it is not to give in to despair
How important it is to get out of the house every day and taste the air
To sniff out the facts to dig up the truth to stand up to the Big Dogs
And let the whole world know that you’re alive and barking

Buff Whitman-Bradley is a peace and social justice activist in Northern California. In addition to writing, he produces documentary videos and audios. With his wife Cynthia, he is co-producer/director of the award winning video Outside In, about people who visit prisoners on San Quentin's death row.