Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘Dogs Protect You From Death’

Walk into the light

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB

Life with the Navajo Dog was always special.  She wasn’t exactly the friendliest bitch in the pack. In fact, most of the time it was clear that there was only one other living being for whom she had positive feelings, and his initials were LB. But still, she shared the middle years of her life with another canine, and defended and taught him as well as me. They even worked together from time to time, and it was on one such occasion that I learned the following lesson:


Dogs Protect You From Death

Dogs protect you from Death.

I know it. I saw.

I was pumping water from the well when I heard

Barking over by the gate. A sleek black presence

Stood outside it, on four massive paws. All shadows

It was, even at midday, and the eyes–

Ah, It was the eyes gave it away, They

Were like holes, pools of blackness,

The darkest and grimmest of the

Creature’s dark and grim parts.

The presence stalked from one side of the

Gate to the other, the ground shaking with

Each step, and its massive head lowered,

And pushed at the chain. But try as it might,

Death couldn’t enter that day.

Both my dogs were there waiting,

And they knew exactly what they faced.

Hair bristling, teeth snapping, the dogs sounded their

Defiance in voices deeper

Than even Death dared to go.

The shadow hesitated, as though in great surprise,

And flickered like a candle at its end.

Still the dogs barked, until at last

The monster tucked in its tail, and turned,

Ran. I hurried to the dogs,

To thank and reassure them,

But they were celebrating already,

By lying down to bask in the sun.

Someday dark Death will return, I am certain,

But not until after D’neh and Boomer are gone.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.

Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘The Kickboxer’s Story’

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB

Another true story, from a time in my life before the Navajo Dog. There were blanks in this one that I had to fill in as best I could, so, yeah, let’s just call it fiction about how things never turn out the way we intend, hope, or expect…and yet some of us at least survive.


The Kickboxer’s Story

We were the best once, the three of us. Packy was the champ’s Champ,

Three different weight classes at once.

Rosie was the best woman fighter on the planet,

Did a spinning back kick that slammed your ribs right up against

Your spine. I was the Middleweight Professional Karate

Champion of the World. We traveled everywhere together,

Fighting and teaching and fighting some more. It sure

Beat staying in Pacoima, watching our brothers

Die for turf. Rosie was Packy’s little sister,

But I loved her almost as much as I loved him.

Couldn’t wait to get married, although I had a lot of

Convincing to do. At last she agreed, but we had to settle

Down. No more jetting everywhere. Pick a good, healthy

Place and have kids. I liked the idea of it. Besides, I was

Getting tired of being kicked in the head. Things that’d

Been easy for me to do, and to think about, were starting to

Get real tough. People would come up and slap me on the

Shoulder and say hi like old buddies,

And I wouldn’t remember them at all. So we found this

Place in the north Valley, and I rented Rosie a house,

While Packy and me opened a school.

A comic book company started writing about

His adventures. The Leader of the Pack! and even included me

at his side. We were retired, but we were famous!

At least, Packy was famous. I was Smilin’ Sammy,

His shadow, the dude you had to get through to try him.

The school did good, and Rosie and I

Did better, and we had a son. Bobby was a great baby,

And he grew up big and wide so he didn’t look like no Barrio

Boy like me. Then the gangs discovered the school,

And me and Packy were fighting again for real.

Action in the parking lot! I tell you. More

Kicks, both given and got. Eventually the gangbangers caught

On that we were more trouble than them, and they started

Coming to learn. We opened a second place, and you know what

That’s like. Lost our asses. Couldn’t make any of the rent.

Packy hit the road again, fighting for dough,

Sending it back to Rosie and me. With her teaching now,

Working beside me, we got out of the jam.

Football turned out to be Bobby’s thing. At fifteen,

He was the starting fullback at Canyon Country High.

All right! Yaay, Bobby! He had good moves, and a

Future that would’ve turned Packy right into the past.

Then one day Rosie and me got a call.

Police wanted us to come and look at something.

Turned out it was Bobby, and he was dead.

He was out driving with some friends who were

Teaching him how to work a stick shift, when a

Carload of gangbangers came up and

Shot him twice in the chest. Cops had the guys that

Did it, and Rosie and me, well, we knew them from the

School, thought we’d really turned ‘em around.

I cried my eyes out, but Rosie stayed strong.

Not a sign of what she felt. We talked, though.

How we talked! All those years, all that work,

And “Where’s Bobby?” “Oh, he’s planted real nice

In the ground.” But Packy was still famous,

And I was still Smilin’ Sammy, the dude you had to get through

To try him. I went to the Church, but nobody there

Had an answer. Went back to the graveyard, and asked

Bobby instead. He hovered over the gravestone, Like a

Shadow on the wrong side of the sun,

Looking more like his old man than her ever did in life,

And he told me he’d been thinking, and talking to some of the

Folks up where he was. Said God had been worried about

The company he was keeping, and decided

To take him before he could go bad. Said it was okay there,

Not to worry, everybody knew us, and wished us real well.

I kissed Bobby good-bye, went home, and told Rosie,

And now she let out her tears. Hit me harder than

She’d ever kicked any opponent, said she hated

Me, and hated her brother still more. She packed her things,

And she lit out the door.

I love my wife, and I love Benny, and once I even loved

Being Former Middleweight Champ, but now I keep trying

To think. Not even Bobby was able to answer my question,

So I’ve got to put it to his new friends.

Can one of you angels please tell me,

Why even when you win,

You get kicked in the head?


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.

Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘The Word Hopi Means Peace’

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB

The Navajo Dog and I had many years’ worth of adventure together. We went places where we experienced things so powerful that they punched through the armor I had developed to defend my Asperger’s soul. Yet somehow my friend and I survived to tell true tales like the one that follows, a memory of something I wish had never had to happen…yet will hold onto even when my body is dust.


The Word Hopi Means Peace

The word Hopi means “peace,” but

A war rages there. I found out about it

During a visit with the Navajo dog. The Hopi

Elder was about to go to a meeting with—

Get this—a member of the U.N. The Hopi

Wanted the U.N. to investigate Indian

Life, and force changes. While we were

Getting ready for the trek up Big Mountain,

Where the meeting was to be held, the elder

Got a phone call. His son had just been

Arrested by rangers from the Bureau of

Indian Affairs. The charge was driving while

Drunk. Since the youth had left us only

Moments earlier, completely sober, this

Didn’t make sense, and the Hopi

Elder, the Navajo dog, and I piled into my

Truck to see what was going on.

We got to the gas station where the rangers

And the young Hopi were, and he was in

Handcuffs, struggling and cursing, while

A small crowd looked on.

He stank of whiskey also, if he’d been doused

Like in a bad movie. The rangers

Were both Indians, one Hopi, one Navajo.

They apologized to the Hopi elder for

Having to bring in his son. Unfortunately,

They added, they would also have to bring

In his truck.

Now this truck was the elder’s only transportation,

His only way to get to the meeting if I hadn’t been

There. The Navajo dog and I exchanged glances,

And she nodded. “I saw this picture,” she said.

“Hell,” I said, “I wrote it.”

“Hush,” said the elder. “Don’t worry. It’ll be fine.”

“All you know is peace,” said the Navajo dog.

“For four hundred years your people have

Thought all would be fine.

My people know different,” she said, and:

“Listen, I have some connections. Let me see

What I can do.

It all depends,” she added, “on if I can find a

Way to get through.”

And with that the Navajo dog began chanting.

She danced, and howled, and moaned. Her

Paws were like beaters, and she gave a

Steady heartbeat to the earth. The rangers

Stared at this crazy animal, and so did the

Others looking on. Some offered advice

About how to stop fits. One of the rangers

Actually reached for his gun.

Then the sky clouded over, thunder

Clapped, and lightning exploded!

And new voices joined in from the sky.

We stared upward, and saw the Kachinas,

Hopi ancestors, gods, helmeted,

Horned, and feathered, and they were all

Staring down. Huge, they were, like

Children who played with human-sized dolls.

The spirits looked at the rangers, and at the

Hopi elder’s son. They looked at the

Dancing Navajo dog.

Then they spoke together, in a chorus

That made the mesas shake. Buttes

Quivered, trees bent, people threw

Themselves to the ground. I didn’t speak

The language, but I felt its meaning

Drive through me, lightning flashing old

Images in my soul.

I saw birth. I saw growing things.

I saw endings.

A people gathered in prayer.

Sky cities merging all into one.

And I knew the Kachinas were speaking of

The Unity they saw as life under this sun.

More thunder resounded. More lightning

Crashed down. Then, just as they had appeared,

The spirits were gone. The Navajo dog

Sat calmly, looked around as though

Everyone else was crazier than she.

The rangers backed to their horses, spoke

Quietly, then came forward again.

One of them unlocked their prisoner’s cuffs.

The other handed the Hopi elder the keys

To his truck. “Take the boy home,

Sober him up, we’re sorry,” they said,

And the Navajo dog blew out a

Noseful of dust.

“Take him home, we’re sorry,”

They said again,

And the dog yipped in quiet approval this time.

The rangers climbed into their saddles,

Rode off, and the Hopi elder turned to the

Navajo dog. “Thank you,” he said.

“They didn’t do it for me,” said the Navajo

Dog. “Nor did they do it for you, or your

Son.”

The Hopi elder nodded. His eagle’s eyes

Glinted. He said I word I didn’t know, but

I knew what it meant: “For all.”

We went to the meeting in two vehicles,

His truck and mine. It was a rough ride,

And along the way we stopped at a hogun

And picked up a Navajo farmer, an old

Lady in turquoise, who immediately

Recognized the Navajo dog.

They talked about other wars they had

Been in together, and rejoiced at

Being able to fight again.

When we got to the meeting place,

It was like a festival, with food, drink, and

A rock ‘n’ roll band.

But the U.N. representative must have gotten

Lost somewhere,

Or sidetracked,

Or arrested for drunk driving,

For he never even showed his face.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.

Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘Kid Hollywood Had A Mighty Fine Deal’

Who sez only H’wood wimmins can have great closets?

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB

Time now for a few words about Kid Hollywood. Words I never thought I would want anyone to hear or read. So here we go with another true story about life in the Big Bad City. Maybe I should subtitle this “A Cautionary Tale But With Redemption.” Happy endings, gang! Give us a big hand!

Oh, yeah. This one’s kind of long. Not Faery Queen long, but still….


Kid Hollywood Had A Mighty Fine Deal

So how did Kid Hollywood finally shuffle off to

Buffalo? What made him stop that Rodeo to

Sunset to Gower Gulch drive?

Well, believe it or not, it was personal.

That’s right. No creative differences here.

No protesting silly changes, or stars’ ad libs.

It was love caused the big

Fade Out.

Or was it that old-time ambition?

Kid Hollywood had long since gone beyond

Needing,

But was still into

I want,

So I won’t lie to my new self about my old.

It was ambition, after all, sent Kid Hollywood

Running higgledy piggledy

Hither and yon,

Ambition (not love) betrayed.

What happened was, as successful as the Kid grew,

He never felt he was really getting his due. Others

Got better projects, or bigger salaries, or more

Wondrous reviews.

Others got laid more, and named more in

Columns and stories and interviews.

Others made bolder advances

Along creative frontiers.

Kid Hollywood grew envious, even

Bitter. But, God! he had fine clothes,

And that fabulous art collection,

And cars,

And oh what a house!

Not enough.

Never, as has been said,

Enough.

Until the last script.

Kid Hollywood’s last script began with a

Mighty fine deal.

Mighty fine, yessir. Lots of guarantees, pay or

Plays, royalties, and buy-outs, and back ends.

Millions involved.

And a chance to do something great.

“You have a unique talent,” the Monster

Of Film Land said. “You can do things

Other writers cannot. I have no talent at all.

But I love talent. I want to help talent.

If I’d been there, Mozart would have died

Old, fat, and rich. Van Gogh would have

Had his pick of patrons, and at least

Three ears. I missed out on them.

I’m here for you.

Anything you want to create, I want to see created.

You write. I’ll produce it. I’ll sell.

Anything.

Anything.

Unique…”

I signed, and I created. I wrote, and he sold,

And it went up on the screen.

Money for Kid Hollywood,

And approval.

And more chances for more of the same.

Two things did Kid Hollywood live for,

Ambition,

And love.

He learned to love whatever helped his

Ambition, loved the Monster,

Thought he saw past the mask

To the soul.

So did the Kid love?

Or just want?

Or was there, beyond everything,

A genuine need?

Well, anyway, so far so good. Nothing here

for a Hollywood adieu. Success! Top of the

Mountain! Everything as promised.

We had a very happy Kid Hollywood here,

Only then, guess what happened?

No, no, no, try again.

This is about betrayal, remember?

And in Hollywood, what’s the ultimate way?

Close, very close,

But no, it isn’t that the checks started to bounce.

It’s that they—

Just stopped.

No more payments. No more money.

No more midnight meetings,

Or plans for new shows.

No more—Oh, for God’s sake, I admit it—

No more dreaming.

No more.

Love?

Ambition?

With millions withheld.

The Monster had played the true

Monster game, parlayed his investment

Into a Jamaican account.

Better than Switzerland!

Safer than the Antilles!

Gone in sixty seconds! went the deal.

Why?

Planned?

A reaction to some threat?

Unknown. Unknown to this day.

What’s known is that the Kid was

Caught high and dry, pants down

And dreams in the sky.

Caught needing.

Oh, Kid Hollywood had a mighty fine deal.

Mighty fine deal, yessir. Lots of guarantees, pay or

Plays, royalties, and buy-outs, and back ends.

Millions involved.

And a chance to do something great.

But:

Kid Hollywood went broke,

Financially and creatively.

Grew silent.

Spoke to no one.

And to his wonder,

Grew to understand his pain.

After all, it was there, it was real, it was

A Sign.

So the Kid

Learned the dance,

Tapped up a storm,

And exited stage right.

It wasn’t death, not really.

More like taking off a disguise.

Shamen are shape-changers.

They become else in order to be.

Sometimes they become trapped in their

New forms, the animal brain taking over,

And they forget who they’ve been.

What they are.

Kid Hollywood was the ultimate shaman,

Trapped in a shape untrue.

Now that he’s gone, I am free

To want,

And to need,

And to dream.

Ambition?

Hell, just let me love!


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.

Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘The Navajo Dog Walks Her Talk

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB:

The Navajo Dog is back today, and while I don’t think anyone could be as happy about that as I am, she definitely is worth keeping company with. Oh, and yes, this is a true story, every word. To let it be otherwise would betray everything she has lived for.


The Navajo Dog Walks Her Talk

The Navajo dog walks her talk, has been for at least

A thousand years. Lost items are a specialty. She

Has found a hidden concho belt, the skull of a vanished

Cat, and several renewed friends. Money she isn’t

That good at, but opportunities abound at her call.

The problem is, she drives me crazy, demanding a

Quid pro quo. “What have you done for me?” she

Will say. “You trade with the medicine men. What

Will you give your medicine dog?”

For awhile, rides in the truck were enough, her

Nomadic origins satisfied by the bumping of

The bed. Locking up the Navajo dog was impossible

Anyway. I would close the garage door on her,

Turn around, and there she would be, laughing.

Food as a thank you is hopeless. Anything she wants

She can take for herself. Once, I buried a sack of

Dog food beneath half a ton of oil drums, just as a

Test. The Navajo dog didn’t flinch, just waited until

I turned away. Then—wham!—a rumble, a crash, and

A dog munching contentedly, while the drums shivered

And swayed.

One of the skills the Navajo dog has taught me

Is the making of spirit staffs. It began when I

Wanted a stick to guide me over some rough

Paths. She told me where to find a good strong one,

Then guided me to some turkey feathers, and corn.

I stained the kernels with vegetable dye,

Strung them as beads, and attached them to

Both the feathers and the wood. Still, the

Navajo dog felt it wasn’t

Enough, took me out again. This time, we found

The skeleton of a cow, and the dog went directly to the

Spine. “Pick a backbone, any backbone,” she said

In stage patter. “You need a reminder to be brave.”

“I am brave,” I said.

“Sometimes,” she said, “you forget.

I attached the vertebra to the staff, using the

Corn beads. Still, the Navajo dog felt it wasn’t

Enough, took me out once more. This time, we

Made a fire, and kept the ashes, and at her

Instruction I used them to paint a black spiral

The length of the wood. “Black is a sacred

Color,” she said. “Where I come from,” I told her,

“Black means death.”

“Where I come from,” she told me, “everything

Means death.

And life as well.

With the black, and the corn,” she said,

“And the feathers, and the bone,

Your new staff will carry you

Straight to heaven, or maybe hell.”

I have walked many miles with my spirit staff,

And climbed the steepest slopes. I have fallen,

And gotten up,

And fallen again,

But never has the staff failed. It carries turquoise

Now, set into the wood. “So you can fly freely

Where you need to,” said the Navajo dog,

And I’ve flown fast and free. Now, though, she

Wants a staff of her own, with no instructions,

No hints, no clues of what it should be. I figure

To pull out all the stops, and give her what she

Deserves.

After all, in a realm

Where all things mean death

And life

I’ll never be able to find what she needs.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.

Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘The Actor’s Wife’

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB:

No Navajo Dog today, just good old-fashioned showbiz, circa 1990. The following soliloquy came from my head, but it’s made up of bits and pieces from all too many women I knew back in the day.

Actors’ wives! Not all that unlike doctors’ wives now that I think about it.

So it goes.


The Actor’s Wife

Happiness to me? A series for my husband,

A firm commitment, twenty-two on the air. I

Came from nothing, but now that we’re here

I’ve learned you’ve got to spend. Everything

Is appearances, which means a good house,

A good car, clothes to kill. That way, they

Think you’re successful, and they want you

In on the deal. My husband’s been acting

For fifteen years. He’s had the lead in two

Series and half a dozen feature films. A

Million dollars safely in the bank, although

That doesn’t give much interest. He wanted

To inspire kids the way the stars of his day

Inspired him. “See?” they seemed to say. “You

Can rise above your beginnings. You can be more

Than your parents and your neighbors believe.

Life can be good. It’s okay not to fit in.”

I didn’t fit in either, but I had no talent,

And no real looks before the surgery I’m

Not admitting I’ve had. So I had to latch onto

Someone who could take me away from

Restaurant hostessing, and executive fantasies.

Love? I love my husband, sure. When I see him

On the screen I get all wiggly inside. When the

Photographers close in on us at a premiere, and

I turn on my smile I can even pretend they’re

Interested in me. Some people really do like

Me too. For myself, I mean. There was that

Aging star at the benefit last night, couldn’t

Take his eyes off my breasts. And he’s seen a

Lot of them, believe me. I gave him that same

Photographers’ smile, and you should’ve seen

His grin. No, he didn’t talk to me. Didn’t need to.

We’d had all the communication we could

Without touching. All that was left was his hands

On me, mine on him, lips, tongues, and grinding.

And, to tell you the truth, that really isn’t my thing.

The men need it so much more than we, and

I’m content with the power the promise of it
Brings. If my husband was hornier,
We’d probably be doing much better,

Because he’d have to listen to me.

What did I want, when I was a kid? Not to be the

Consort, that’s for sure. Not to stand next to the

Star, and be cut out of the picture when it’s published.

I wanted to be famous. I wanted to show up at,

Say, a ballpark—Dodger Stadium, why not?

And have every eye turn to watch me. To hear my

Name whispered by fifty thousand lips, so they

Missed the batter’s home run.

My husband wanted to encourage, to give. Me,

I just wanted to get out. Sometimes I wonder why

We’re together. He gives me the house, and the

Fantasy that I’m no longer in real life. But what do

I give him? An illusion to sit beside? Or is it the

Way I mother, and make his failures all right?

If he had a series, I could respect him again,

But ’til then I’ve got my job. No, no, not one with a

Salary. I make friends with the wives

Of the power, so they’ll tell their husbands

What a good couple we are. Nobody buys an

Actor they—or their wives— don’t like.

Tonight’s Thanksgiving, and I’m real excited.

We’re going over to a producer’s house. Last

Year there was no reason to talk to him, but

Now he’s got a series on the air, and maybe

We can swing a guest shot.

It’ll be a nice family Thanksgiving, too bad we

Can’t bring the kids. Oh no, they’d mess up

everything. They’ve just plain gotten too wild.

I remember when I could be wild.

Do I ever wish I could be about something?

No, no, I don’t think so. Leave that for my husband.

Leave that for the fool with a dream.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.

Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘The Navajo Dog Reflects On Being Free’

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB:

An early night of freedom for the Navajo Dog and me after I left L.A. I had never understood the value of having a knowing, loving – albeit impatient as hell teacher – till then.


The Navajo Dog Reflects On Being Free

When Kid Hollywood made his escape from the

Glitz and the glam and the pain

He took the I-Forty and only looked

Back to see if anyone was gaining.

He drove like an Allison or a Petty,

And kept his hands and his heart on the wheel.

In the car with him were some clothes,

And his drums and his cymbals,

And the more precious of his books,

Also a few videotapes of shows he had

Written that he had always intended to see.

The I-Forty runs where Route Sixty-Six did,

But while it’s not as wild, every driver is

More free. By the time Kid Hollywood

Reached Kingman, he had a real feeling

That he’d left the Hollywood hawks behind.

Gliding over the Interstate, though, was

Another hawk, and as Kid Hollywood watched

It swooped down at a smaller bird, a nifty

Meal as is nature’s way.

But the bird escaped, and flew off, and the

Hawk circled, then looked for new prey.

Kid Hollywood, who was looking for portents

And visions anyway, now that he’d found

They were possible again, decided this was a

Sign. He felt like the smaller bird,

Like prey that had successfully escaped.

The next day, just outside Gallup, Kid

Hollywood saw the same thing happen

Once more. Again, a lone hawk swooped

For its supper, and, again, dinner managed

To fly away. Now Kid Hollywood whooped

With the laughter of the newly free,

Secure in this omen of his success.

Some nights later, sitting by a fire beside the

Pecos River with the Navajo Dog,

The two of them shivering

From the desert cold, Kid Hollywood told his friend

This story. The Navajo Dog laughed

A much different laugh than the

Kid had, then dashed away along the riverbank.

When she returned later, while the Kid was

Stirring the ashes of the fire, she carried

A dead hawk with a metal identification band

On its leg. Nothing had yet fed on the bird,

Not even the Navajo Dog, but beneath the feathers

It was only skin and bones.

“Here is the omen you need,”

She said, and Kid Hollywood realized

That the hawk had starved to death.

“One of the major drawbacks,” the Navajo Dog pointed out

As she crunched down on the bones,

“Of being truly free.”


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.