“To All Dog Owners in the Neighborhood” by Carolyn Martin

Enough! The cacophony of barks rolling
from yard to yard to yard is reprehensible
and my only–dogs-can-hear whistle
from Amazon can’t silence the din.

You abandon them – chew on that! –
when you’re off to work or browsing
in the mall and I’m left with Antonia
howling her anxiety, Beauregard
taunting errant squirrels, and Percy
running amok beneath parked cars.

Don’t tell me you love your dogs
more than the mother who brushed your hair
or the lover who cuddles you in bed.
And forget the bunk that it’s unconditional.
Admit what it is: an addiction
to dopamine from non-judgmental welcomings
every time you mosey through the door.

There must be a 12-step group you could join –
I’ll even drive you there – or a therapist
who’ll help you fill your dog-size void.
Maybe training in mindfulness? I’ve read
it can relieve cravings for any fix.

Yet … I admit when you post videos
of a lab mothering kittens abandoned in a barn
or a mutt pushing a child out of harm’s way,
there might be something to this best-friend stuff.

Perhaps I’ll buy some Quiet Please Ear Plugs,
turn up my Homedics noise machine,
and re-evaluate. After death I may request
to reincarnate as a non-shedding,
non-yapping, small-pile-pooping pup.
What breed would you suggest?

first published in The San Antonio Review.

From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, writing and photography. Her fourth poetry collection, A Penchant for Masquerades, was released by Unsolicited Press in 2019. She is currently the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation. Find out more at www.carolynmartinpoet.com.

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