Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2016  Vol. 15 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Truth Dog

Among ugly dogs, he had few peers.
His one eye possessed an evil glint, so say
the authorities, though some who knew him
claim never to have noticed it. Others

deny that the animal had special powers,
though from an early age
he was known as the Truth Dog,
the Dog Who Could Detect Any Lie,

from the merest white slip of a white
to the blackest secret ever held.
You had to hold him to get the full effect,
but even petting him could be enough.

With a man who lied every day of his life,
the dog simply bit, and bit hard;
but mostly you had to tell the lie
to get a reaction. Then the dog would growl,

deep in his throat; if you told the lie again
he would bark, twice, sharply. Once a lie
was so awful, he leapt from the boy’s arms
and was not seen for two weeks.

Many wanted him put to sleep, even an owner
or two (he never lasted long in any house—
the wife or husband always had a few secrets,
and the dog plainly didn’t like secrets).

One preacher tried to poison him, and an actress
of impeccable character tried to run him down
with her car. Those who offered to buy him
included a criminal or two,

and a fat producer who tried to make him
the star of reality television. The sitcom lasted
only two seasons and starred some has-been.
The dog put up with all the fuss

for the sake of an occasional beef bone
and a blue rubber-ball he was fond of.
One day he simply disappeared.
Some say the Mafia kidnapped him,

others that the CIA wanted to train
dolphins to do what the poor dog
did artlessly, and with perfect accuracy,
so far as anyone knows.

There remain those who believe
he was found, almost by accident, by a girl
who, though guilty of her share of bad things,
simply did not know how to lie.  

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