seven dogs (3rd draft)

i drank nine beers with nine chasers
to glue the nine pieces of my mind back together
walking home i walked past the red house
over yonder
same one i’ve walked pass ninety-nine and one-half times before
i stopped right there and thought, how drunk am i?
so i did the math 
nine beers and nine chasers, nine times nine is eighty-one
in nineteen eighty-one i was nine years old
and i walked this very path
with the same nine mailboxes to the left
and the same nine garden gnomes to the right
ninety-nine and one-half take-out menus piled on the doorstep 
of the red house over yonder
and that’s when i saw what i saw
seven dogs fighting in the alley
for a leftover chicken bone
seven brothers forgot their bond and surrendered to the hunger
i saw their teeth grow long and their eyes grow sinister 
i saw mortal fear up close and personal
and then i saw the blackest crow i ever saw
swoop down and steal that chicken bone
then perch high on a steeple, seven tail feathers pointed straight to hell
i saw seven dogs in disbelief 
seven dogs, one dead chicken 
and a tax collector in the blackest crow-feather sweater i ever saw
nine creatures total

note: submitted for publication 12-31-22