Desire's Dog - Reading Harjo and Remembering Ghalib

This morning I was listening to Joy Harjo's collection The American Sunrise and came across this poem, Desire's Dog.  We are all dogs yearning for desire, a bone with traces of fat. The bone is supposed to be the dog's but in this case the dog is the bone's. 

Sometimes we hear glimmers of hope, of escape, of other passions and hungers.  But mostly we sit at the feet of desire for years and disintegrate in the rain as we end. And in the end desire consumes us.   

This poem reminded me of Mirza Ghalib's Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi. "There are so many thousands of desires that are devouring me.  I try to get rid of them, but I could only eliminate a few." It also reminded me of Guru Nanak's words from So Kyon Visre: "the hunger for the name consumes all sorrows."  

In another poem Guru Nanak says, 
ਏਕੁ ਸੁਆਨੁ ਦੁਇ ਸੁਆਨੀ ਨਾਲਿ ॥ 
ਭਲਕੇ ਭਉਕਹਿ ਸਦਾ ਬਇਆਲਿ ॥ 
ਕੂੜੁ ਛੁਰਾ ਮੁਠਾ ਮੁਰਦਾਰੁ ॥ 
ਧਾਣਕ ਰੂਪਿ ਰਹਾ ਕਰਤਾਰ ॥1॥
In other words, the human mind has the dog of greed and two bitches of desire and avarice with it. They rise early in the morning and continually bark, disturbing the peace. The greedy person engages in deception, cheating both those close to him and strangers, using lies like a knife. He takes what belongs to others, like a hunter consuming carrion. Oh Creator, the mind lives like a wild hunter.

Desire's Dog - Joy Harjo


I was desire’s dog.
I ate when I was fed. I did what I was told.
I knew how to sit, stand and roll over on command.
When I was petted, I was made whole.
Even when I dreamed, I dreamed a chain around my neck.

Desire is a bone with traces of fat.
It’s the wag smell of a bitch in heat.
It’s that pinched hit at the end of a beat.
It’s a stick thrown into a rabbit chase.

I lay at the feet of desire for years.

Then I heard this song, calling me.
It was a woman in a red dress,
It was a man with a gun in his hand.
It was a table filled with fruit and flowers.
It was a fox of fire, a bird of stone.

Then, it was gone.

What was left disintegrated by rain and wind.

I had followed desire, to the end.

- Joy Harjo