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Friday, 7 June 2013

Dog Days...

It's a golden dreamy gift of a day, 
light winking in the slanting sunlight,
mums and babes in a scrap of playground,
me with my little dog safe on-lead,
walking the park, our rhythms gentle.

I see them coming, closing in, 
a black mutt, thick-necked, roaming free,
his master, taut in his tight-ass jeans.

And I softly ask if his dog is safe?
It's a trigger for a mouthful of ripe abuse,
spitting contempt as he moves towards me -
a privileged stranger with her poncy dog,
an alien in his tribal world.

Paranoia rises, a default position
with my heartbeat surging,
emotions swirling, 
fogging the brain
as they always have done
with my long-held memories of
brawls and bullies,
a chemistry of anger in the rugged Port.

And true to his breed, this man smells fear.
He threatens. I counter. 
But it's still just words -
till he pulls a knife,
and I lose my cool.

Ghosts of the past dumped, dissolved.
I face him, reckless, unafraid, 
fully complicit with my own anger flaring, 
a boiling brew of scars not healed,
volatile, bold, my street cred rising,
bursting with the old expletives.
'Old' he taunts me, taken aback.
But he knows this code, and I don't care.
It's my dog I fight for,
and his eyes are softening
as I fire off volleys of savage stories,
where dogs like his lunge, attack.
I've seen them rip throats 
in wild abandon.
I've heard piercing screams
from careless owners,
men and dogs going down quick
in a final, ferocious, bloody mess.

And he backs off, slowly understanding.
as I follow him, defiant, 'cos I'm not done yet.
And he slows down, listens.

Now we can talk.

It's no Jane Austen novel
in these grizzled streets.
The stale smell of need lingers on,
in dogs and men in their show of rage;
mine too, perhaps, as I walk our park.

© Barbara Boyd-Anderson

Barbara Boyd-Anderson is an Australian poet.   Formerly a teacher, then a film-maker, she focuses now on poetry and the rich, varied world of 


  1. Awesome Poem...I was once attacked by 4 dogs in a park...whilst I was wheeling my twin daughters in their pram..20y ago..they had no owner with them..just pack instinct..they bit my leg badly.. I managed to beat them off with a rolled up Newspaper...it was a Sunday Morning the local church bells were ringing...but dogs don't go to Church!

    1. It's a growing problem, and some tragic even children's deaths have happened here. Many people are quite naive about the dangers, though this man in my park did not care, and was so aggressive..

      Thank goodness you beat off your pack of dogs...something I am sure you will never forget...
      Love your last comment...XX

  2. I like your idea of using the dog control problem to explore the animal in all of us. And the credible yet unexpected swings of emotions and sociopsychological ‘upper hand’ between the protagonists. In fact, I think this would work well as a short story.

    To take this chance to tell my own dog chasing tale (though less serious than the one above) – a farmer set his dogs on me once. Was probably my own fault for riding a 50 cc over his land. Tried ‘roaring’ away along a dirt track with the pack bounding around the wheels. Remember thinking ‘better not fall off’ just before I hit a rut and took to the air. Bike went one way, I the other. ‘Dog meat’ I thought as I hit the dirt. Then rolled, fists futilely at the ready, to see the hounds scattering to the four winds. I like to think the scooter and I scared them off with our aero/acrobatics. Truth is, of course, he had his animals well trained, that farmer. No doubt he got a good laugh out of the experience, while I suppose I got a story, and the dogs a bit of exercise. Desperately far cry from the circumstances of those poor penned up creatures in the news report.

    1. Bavo, I was surprised at my own anger, how fast it escalated, and the poem does try to explore this, so thankyou for reading and understanding..
      Your own story is a vivid one, and with a happy ending ...just as well....And i agree, there are good short stories here...and plenty of verve in your account...

  3. You capture so many layers here Barbara. The blissful day, the innocence of a walk in the park and the threat from man and dog. I love how you weave the roughness and rawness, vulnerable moment with the strength of age, character and love for another. The balance could have gone either way and you really bring your readers into that vulnerable moment, when life can change in an instant. Nicely done!!

  4. Yes, Mari, life can change in an instant, catch us unawares, push us to action in ways that can surprise us and no doubt others too..as here...The man was shocked that I would not play the victim...but yes, real danger.
    Thankyou so much for your careful read of the layers happening in this piece... So many reasons our emotions flare when we have a history of other attacks, bullying behind us...
    We can either get stronger or just go down. Not easy, but the choice is clear..

  5. I really like the shift into warrior mode in this piece, Barbara - a real key change - but I mostly love the reflective element in the narrator's voice - how such an incident affects who we are, and how it compares to who we thought we were. So many layers... Glad you came out of it ok. I'd like to see more of your work in the near future. ;-)

  6. Beautiful write, Barbara!
    Nicely penned!




  7. Wonderful to see this here Barbara, you are such a fine writer and a warrior too. Maire XXXX

  8. Eamon, thankyou for your thoughts...and you are right..we have a view ourselves, our lives and then a serious challenge or trauma sends us into a totally different mode, yes, warrior indeed..I was shocked at my anger, so fierce, so fast...
    Thank you for your encouragement, much appreciated...

  9. Amy, thankyou for reading and commenting. Much appreciated..

  10. Maire, it does feel good to have been published, to stand up and be counted,,,thankyou for your encouragement and support...yes, a warrior...it seems to strange, but sometimes a fierce response to an aggressor is what surges up, even before we know we are doing it, and I do hate bullies!!!!

  11. Such a terrifying ordeal for you and your dog. I like the way this poem examines the deep seated emotions that this encounter unearths. This is a raw, brave piece of writing.

  12. More ladies like yourself Barbara would make the streets safe for everyone, well done on taming the bullys

  13. Sue, I shook like a leaf after this, and yes, this is written with a truly raw energy...no fiddling with the thoughts, no recidivism ...no I was just trying to recreate, review what occurred..and it was brutal...
    TQ, Sue for reading and commenting.

  14. John, having a laugh here at your comment...I think I would make a lousy vigilante, but on this occasion I was defending my lovely dog, Hugo...no way was I about to let him be savaged by another dog...and strangely enough when the man understood this he backed off finally..

    But I do hate bullies...have seen too much of this across the years...
    TQ for reading and commenting,,,

  15. Loved this when I first read it and I am delighted that others can enjoy it too - a fine poem, Barbara! :)


  16. Marion, so glad to get your encouragement here...it's a pleasure to share it with you and the other readers...thankyou for your generous comment....