"The very beasts associate the ideas of things that are like each other or that have been found together in their experience; and they could hardly survive for a day if they ceased to do so. But who attributes to the animals a belief that the phenomena of nature are worked by a multitude of invisible animals or by one enormous and prodigiously strong animal behind the scenes? It is probably no injustice to the brutes to assume that the honour of devising a theory of this latter sort must be reserved for human reason." -- Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough: a study in Magic and Religion

Dog's Plan

Dog shared Its plan with George last night
Which gave him such an awful fright
He stayed awake till dawn's first light
Too scared to run and hide

Dog's Plan concerned our land's defense
And naked, fierce belligerence
And dreadful leaders proud and dense
Who waltzed while others died

He'd often heard barks just as dumb
But this one left George cold and numb
For by the sucking of his thumb
He knew that Dog had lied

For Dog had nothing planned at all
It merely longed to see men crawl
And women moan and babies bawl
And peoples petrified

The Book of Dog contained no clue
That what appeared as Doggie-doo
Would sicken not just me and you
But others, too, beside

Sometimes George thought he understood:
Dog wanted him to do some good
By bombing nature's neighborhood
With Power's pesticide

But George had garbled up the rhyme
Which led him then to pantomime
An offer of Medieval Time
To those he'd terrified

He claimed he lived to do Dog's work
Yet only seemed to play the jerk
With curling lip and cynic's smirk
Upon his mouth so wide

His reckless swagger left appalled
A world aghast at one enthralled
By perquisites and servants called
And makeup reapplied

But mom and Dog had always seen
That newsmen wore their glasses green
In Emerald City's vapid sheen
And they, of course, complied

So few observed or told of ills
As boy George, green around the gills,
Downed fantasies like poison pills
Which left whole countries fried

But Dog said not to sweat the small
That sycophants would dance on call
At his inauguration ball
And have him glorified

Upon the stage he struts and frets
A player poor without regrets
As good as little ever gets
Absorbed in pompous pride

His monologue no rhyme consults
His thought the human mind insults:
A sound and fury that results
In nothing signified

His hour upon the stage unfilled
The audience leaves hardly thrilled
At having bought bad tickets billed
As drama unsupplied

Reviewers chose to see his clothes
Where he wore none, which only shows
How power blinds and money glows
In circles rarified

He chose to write his own critique
Which papers printed: cowed and meek
Too scared and bought to try and seek
The truth unsanctified

He thought himself both shrewd and deft
Yet brain-wise he had little heft
His flighty visions only left
Our nation vilified

But, anyway, the plagues will come
They need no fife or beating drum
To herald where they're to or from
This, Dog has certified

So George was left alone to weep
Betrayed by Dog, in doo-doo deep,
As shadows cruel began to creep
Up on him as he sighed

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright © 2005