Treasure Island

Billy Collins

(22 March 1941 - / New York City)

Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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Comments about this poem (Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House by Billy Collins )

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  • Donald Charon (9/20/2014 1:23:00 PM)

    How very refreshing. As an unschooled novice wanting to connect with real, deep feelings, I will at times become discouraged when I read established, honored poets that I not only don't care for but also don't begin to 'get'. Poetry is subjective, yes..... Thank you for restoring my sanity with your museful contact. (Report) Reply

  • Asdf Ffe (12/29/2012 3:54:00 AM)

    Here's the inspired kernel of truth hidden by Billy Collins's poem: it's fucking hilarious, and that's it. (Report) Reply

  • Eiz Qarqash (6/3/2012 5:34:00 AM)

    I liked the poem a lot. Billy Collins's poems are very simple with slight favor of mystery, but they symbolize complex thoughts. Thank you, Mr. Collins for such a great poem and I hope I'll meet you in person someday. (Report) Reply

  • Jerry Buckley (1/27/2012 4:03:00 PM)

    My second favorite poem ever.... and the poem which led me to my favorite poet ever... Billy Collins the maestro.... Thank you Billy... Enjoyed your recent visit to Vanderbilt University, please come again. (Report) Reply

  • Jerry Buckley (4/20/2010 1:13:00 PM)

    Inspirational......I love it when it comes to the barking barking barking to read this out load to someone first time...and watch them crack up as you animate the poem....Ten out of Ten .....take a B C powder and come back strong....a modern master of the highest calibre (Report) Reply

  • Beansie Dwyre (4/12/2010 2:09:00 PM)

    I've always assumed the poor dog's owners were those at risk should Billy 'keep a gun...' (Report) Reply

  • Constance Bates (2/14/2010 11:15:00 AM)

    This is neither a poem about a dog nor a gun, but - dare I suggest it? - a poem of madness. When even Beethoven cannot protect us (say it isn't so, not even Appassionata's extended coda and its own descent into mental frenzy?) and our dearly earned education leaves us unable to think our way out (Out? 'OUT, damned Spot! ') and there is the everlasting RARK! RARK! RARK! D-D-DOG sitting in our oboe section - Yes, I am wearing black and hunched over the pipes, vibrating to Bach's Toccata & Fugue in D Minor, keeping time with a major facial tic.

    And Luke, dear wonderful bright-eyed Luke: I laughed nearly as madly at Joe's resolution as that of Sir Collins. (Report) Reply

  • Luke Johnson (12/15/2009 7:48:00 PM)

    Joe Rock, you took this poem way too serious. This is a humorist sharing his wretched misfortune with all of us. (Report) Reply

  • Louie -Love & Peace- Levy (11/15/2009 12:53:00 PM)

    Your reflection and perception of a 'Gun' inference to solve a most common
    'pestering' for Peace among neighbors, succeeds in patronizing the Pet and kindly
    tolerate their enslaved companion. Had the 'Genius' of Ancient, Activist Musicians dealt alike with tyrant, murdering 'Hecklers', such complacency would have never provided any poem's author with literary amusement. Not such as WMD technology hath ended all wars, as we were led to believe as WW 2 Veterans, There's a more simpler solution to shut down inconsiderate 'Barking'. All animals do have their birth right to communicate within hearing range. Please allow me to collaborate and share a learned solution.

    'There were Barks from the left of my fence and likened responses from the right side. Flanking from the rear were two megaphoning Dobermans, ready at Guard - An audience with faint bark applause were in harmony within ear shout distance from somewhere.'

    My call to our local trusty and loving 'Animal Control' officers had all the provokers for peace among all neighbors by the space age technology of a mild shocking 'Barking Collar'. One button depressed and the animal is trained to shut itself up and keep all we more disaplined animals happy and Loving?
    Now? What to do with the evil brains of all war mongers and fanatic, dogma barkers
    Any Ideas out there? Repectfully, Mr Collins, you are a stimulus sort of inspire,
    to say the least, Thank you!

    NYC bred (Report) Reply

  • Joe Rock (10/8/2009 12:11:00 AM)

    The title doesn't really jive with the poem, as it seems like he doesn't mind the dog enough to shoot it. Plus, the narrator sounds like a sissy who is afraid of guns and listens only to classical music. But what do you expect from Billy. Blegh. (Report) Reply

  • Craig Steiger (8/28/2009 6:13:00 PM)

    I spoze Billy's right- humor is the best weapon! If you can't quiet the doggie, mizewell laugh about him! (Report) Reply

  • Bud Art (5/16/2009 2:15:00 PM)

    What a hoot! Really got me laughing. Maybe this is the root of minimalist music? (Report) Reply

  • Michael Gale (4/9/2009 9:45:00 PM)

    Hey Billy: This poem brings to mind an episode of the TV series Seinfeld, Where Elaine Benis cannot get any sleep because of a constant dog barking nonstop, Elaine then hires Newman the postman and Cosmo Kramer who go and kidnaps the same said dog, but not before the dog bites and tears away a piece of material from Kramers sleeve. Great poem. Have you seen that episode of Seinfeld?

    God bless us all-MJG. (Report) Reply

  • Pinky O'hara (12/18/2007 10:20:00 AM)

    When it happened to me......I thought 'What would Dear Abby do? ' She'd go straight to the I telephoned.......sheepishly apologizing for bothering them for bothering me.........I explained that '......even with my windows closed and my music wide open....'...........The Lady of The House told me '...well, get in line. The whole neighborhood is complaining.......' Things changed, though.........every time I'd drive by their house they'd lean out the front door calling me names.............My dog, Bless Her Heart, never forgave them and they weren't allowed to come and go without her barking in their direction.........They couldn't even sneak to their car! They couldn't have a BBQ, they couldn't mow their stupid crabby grass without my best friend making them squirm! Their dog, the size of a chicken. My dog? a large pony.....and smart enough to never cross her property line................The perfect payback..... (Report) Reply

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