The Limited

I saw a man swerve his car
And try to hit a stray dog,
But the quick mutt dodged
Between two parked cars

And made his escape.
God, I thought, did I just see
What I think I saw?
At the next red light,

I pulled up beside the man
And stared hard at him.
He knew that I’d seen
His murder attempt,

But he didn’t care.
He smiled and yelled loud
Enough for me to hear him
Through our closed windows:

“Don’t give me that face
Unless you’re going to do
Something about it.
Come on tough guy,

What are you going to do?”
I didn’t do anything.
I turned right on the green.
He turned left against traffic.

I don’t know what happened
To that man or the dog,
But I drove home
And wrote this poem.

Why do poets think
They can change the world?
The only life I can save
Is my own.

– from the book War Dances, a mix of poetry and short stories