Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

Arma vriumque cano, sang the poet,
Though Barlow makes it canine.
Singing of men and arms, tooth and claw,
Of red red blood and the men who spill it
And the werewolves of Pasadena.

(I joke: it's always Los Angeles,
Centerless city of cars and men in cars.
Men turning to wolves, wolves wanting to be men.)

Werewolves are real, biting and scratching

Anthony Silvio's just this guy, see?
Needs a job, gets a job, working at the pound
Caring for the lost dogs, the stray dogs
And, unknowing, for the dogs that aren't dogs

Werewolves are real, changing and fighting

Weredogs is better: big bruisers,
Mutts and bulls and retrievers and hounds
Man-sized, running free from heaped clothes

Werewolves are real, in the unreal land of LA

Dogs have packs. Dogs have territory.
Dogs piss around the edges and snarl for show
A pack has one woman, one bitch
Two bitches fight -- no bitches fight
Every pack needs a girl
Sister/mother/whore to love and fuck

There's more than one pack in LA
Going to be a lot of pissing

Lark's got the smart pack, the plan, the way
Growing steady, keeping quiet
Smells two other packs
Not ready for attack, betrayal, murder

Lark survives pack's slaughter
So does the girl -- call her "the girl"
She runs away, meets Silvio:
Just a cute girl
Just a guy at the pound
Just a coupla kids in love

Lark hides in Silver Lake
He's Bonnie's dog Buddy
Can ya believe it?
Plans are good -- "good dog" is better

Then there's this cop, Peabody
Circling outside the dogfight
Not a dog, barely honest
Cop enough to add two and two
Slick enough to slide into trouble

There's three packs in LA
And Mexican druglords
And a girl who came north,
Surfing doggie style in Baja,
Until her pack got killed
By Mexican druglords

There's a lot of killing
The wild ones don't live to be old

Two of Lark's dogs
Playing tournament bridge in Pasadena
They get good, get in deep
With some ol' Mexicans

Add crystal meth, cooked in stinking houses
(Dogs can smell real good)

Shake down to taste, stir well with
Doublecrosses by threes and fours
Semiauto rounds and teeth at the throat

There'll be flowing blood in LA tonight
Bitten and shot and cut and scratched
Enough red to sink the town

It ends in tears and gunshots
As any good noir must
Does Silvio get the girl?
Does he get his own changing skin?
Does anyone come out alive?

Just read it.
How often do you find
A werewolf novel in verse?
Verses much better than mine.
(But if this is doggerel,
What then is wrong with it?)

2 comments:

ellen-datlow said...

I just posted by mini-review of it that's going in YBFH #22. I loved it! Fantastic book.

Friend Mouse said...

I thought this book was just outstanding, and it demolished my initial hesitation re: the whole blank verse thing (not so much a poetry-reader over here). Barlow manages to concentrate his story by getting rid of superfluous words. Cool stuff. Plus, werewolves!

Post a Comment