Monday, August 11, 2014


Try not to understand the need for
small dogs to bark - upon friend or foe,
mattering not: there is one I know
that I've been passing for four years
on and off, the low fence between us:
by rote sight and smell, would they not
supply the mutt enough to know me?
On days when I catch him silent,
him deciding not to bark, but content
with his head down on his king's cushion,
aware of me passing and letting me pass,
I turn and extend my hand with benevolent
gesture, cooing and beckoning kindly enough,
and he flings himself into immediate alarm,
barking his chestnut brain to a fine and dandy duff,
and I sigh, roll my eyes, and continue on, remembering
he will let you pet him, and begrudgingly at that,
only when his owner is present.
How can you get inside the mind
of such critters - the reasons
for his snotty button nose, snorting anxiety
and fierceness according to his kind, his pincher mouth snapping:
is it like a neurotic king, fearing his throne
will be supplanted?
What is the strange attachment
that keeps them so riddled through?
Is it a dim extension of the behavioral
habits of the owner? That would be
an uncharitable assessment - and untrue.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton owned such a one;
nasty to the maid, a vociferous snapper,
who after snapping, would flee to his master
and from that great bulwark would look out with
insolent gloating, as though to say, "Just try it,
just try and kick me like a football through the door
into the neighbour's front yard - I'd like to see you try."
Max Beckmann and his Quappi
kept one also. I don't know what this all means.
But Lord help me if I ever own one,
and Lord help you too. And Lord help the snappers
with a mistaken sense of size,
ejecting their internet canards
in an anonymous bundle of white curly fluff
like an eighteenth century pompadour
powdered wig of the court
that hides their rat-like forms;
critics of Francis, boors of the net,
instead of truth, put across this pet;
insular, freakish, wound-up little snappers
with a hidebound, intransigent God complex
the likes of which to make Nietzsche look sane,
tuned only to their excellent guardianship,
blind to how their solemnity's inane,
like the little barkers that are suffered,
who bark at those aboard the barnacled barque,
especially at the helmsman, steering them to harbour.


Enbrethiliel said...


This isn't the first time a badly socialised dog has been an apt metaphor. During a time when I was discussing feminism with a man whom we both know from the blogosphere, I happened to mention my sadness that one of my tutee's dogs, which had liked me as a puppy, had grown so angry at being chained up all day (Very lazy owners >=() that he would occasionally try to take a bite out of me whenever I passed by. When I got to the story about the time I sat down at (what I had hoped was) a non-threatening distance, the dog actually padded over, leaned gently against me, and put its head on my lap, only to growl and snap at me when I tried to scratch behind its ears, our mutual acquaintance said, "Just like feminists!" LOL!

Paul Stilwell said...

I think I know who that mutual acquaintance may be! That is so funny. And yes, apt.