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(22 March 1941 - / New York City)

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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


Read poems about / on: dog, house, music, silence, time

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Comments about this poem (I Go Back To The House For A Book by Billy Collins )

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  • Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (10/14/2013 3:34:00 AM)

    Every dog has its song
    And to us it is stat taco of barks
    Beethoven with a tail, why not
    There he goes again, oh hark
    Bow wow wow wow wow! ! !

    7 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    Inspirational......I love it when it comes to the barking barking barking bit....best 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

  • 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...'

  • C Coudriet (3/22/2010 4:53:00 PM)

    @joe Rock - Classical music is not for Sissies

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

    ...louie
    NYC bred

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