A Talking Dog Speaks to a Corporation

What is it like to be a person?
A person feels shame.

A person is always sneakily aware
of the gap between what it is and what it could be.

Into that gap pours death, like black through a funnel
until finally it fills up the whole life of a person

regret crowding out breath,
what might have been forcing what is into a corner.

You and I, we have no shame.
I am shameless at gobbling and running

at barking and leaping into the arms of my keeper,
and you are shameless at making money.

I am shameless at affection, it shakes me from fur to tail,
but you don’t seem to have any affection.

In this, I have to say, I am more like a person.
They are so affiliative, but you have about you

A terrible self-sufficiency, like a deserted mansion,
as if tainting the tiny waters of Lago Agrio

were enough to content you,
as you were saturated or sated by your own expansion

like a balloon being blown, where the increasing tension
of the skin is an inevitable function

of inward pressure, nothing to do with affection.
But humans have an insatiable hunger for affection.

Even the most rotund and self-centered person
will pet me, or having been spurned by another, kick me.

I do not imagine that you will either pet me or kick me.
I imagine rather that you would prefer to watch me

through a one-way mirror to see what kibbles I devour.
For you I will always be a customer.

And though a person may have a customer,
it may also be someone they sigh for or abhor,

a scent or stench, an emotional color.
Whoever walks into that store may be so much more

than a customer. For you, customer is a profile, or maybe
a number. I am simply more human than you are.

Because you are disembodied, and though you have “corps”
in your name, you still never will do

Pilates or play the bugle, never rot like a decent corpse
into slime, you just fall on the floor

in a litter of accounts payable, receivable, options, columns,
executives escorted out of the building

by armed guards, on one hour’s notice
before they can use their codes to copy or screw up

everything. You incorporate but you don’t excrete.
You cannot shit in the street.

And unlike me or a person, your shit is not
dirt you can see, fecal matter, black, brown, flush

or step on, it is diffused and silent, simmering in its
insolence, its PCBs, its lowered water table, increased

incidence of childhood cancer, like everything else about you,
your shit is statistical. That I am a talking dog

is a fiction, that you’re a person is another—
Or, if you’re a person,

it’s one with a peculiar affliction
of turning everything into numbers, as if instead of speaking

these words, I would begin intoning “One, a hundred twenty,
two thousand and forty seven, one million two hundred thousand

seventy-six, four hundred and sixty eight and fifty seven
cents,” a human somehow stripped of intuition,

curiosity, compassion, whose one remaining faculty
is calculation, one who’s already embarked upon

planned obsolescence, singularity.
Sin as in single-minded, a headless skyscraper

out of whose tower pours
dollar signs and bits of loose paper, rhythm without scansion,

scaffold with ascension. But a person
is marked by doing things for no good reason. Free.

Because we want to. As a woman in a park throws me a branch
and over and over, I catch it.

—Monica Raymond, Cambridge, MA