The Chosen One - a Poem by Tom Sleigh

This poem is about God and dog. A man's angst, anger, frustrations and depressions in the moment of his approaching death are sprinkled deftly in this free flowing poem written by Tom Sleigh for Ploughshares. Here is the link: The Chosen One

The Chosen One
by Tom Sleigh

The embarrassment of wanting to pray to God,
the demand that God give a good Goddamn

had made him pretty nutty by the end; a lifelong Marxist,
he took up with Ouspensky, then spent all his money

(and he had tons, all those years in the bank
when Das Kapital and the Wall Street Journal

vied for subway reading time) on learning Gurdjieff
Sufi dances, spinning round and round in an ecstasy

of sweating, chanting, his happiness making him
call you on the phone to tell you in a way that made you

wince that he loved you for your holiness, regardless
of your failings that he would then go on to list

at death, most pissed at us, his useless fucking friends,
hangdog, silent under his scorn, withstanding his tongue-lashings,

then withdrawing to email, messages left on his machine.
And through it all, only his little dog, a white terrier

named Constanza, escaped his vitriol, his mortified, lacerating,
self-annihilating rages set off, so he said, by God’s hatred,

God’s malice, God’s need to get his hooks in you
and twist you and turn you until His bullying was satisfied.

And while he was saying this, his hand would drift down
past the bedrails and immediately she was there,

licking his fingers, looking up with complete canine
accommodation, the reassuring tail wagging undismayed

by the smell beginning to come off him. It was as if God
put the dog in the room to uncover his friends as paltry

Job’s comforters, in an accursed experiment to show
how isolated death can make a man, so that only

a dumb creature could be avid in its love, rising up
as we fell down in the scale of his affections;

coming out of her dogginess to meet him coming out
of his God cursed pain: her tongue slathered

and slurped his pungently acrid,
irresistible salts, the soon to be carrion salts

that gave to him such flavor—he, her chosen one,
his skin and smell enveloping her in lusciously novel

stinks and savors, as if only now was he the chrism, the oil
her dog-hearted devotions had so long thirsted for.