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Reflections of a working writer and reader



A Poem by Billy Collins

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.

Billy Collins

16 Responses to “A Poem by Billy Collins”

  1. This poet always pleases me, and this poem, despite the title, is easy to overlook for some reason.
    He’s also one of the few poets that reads his poems better than anyone else could. Years ago, when he was known mostly as a writing teacher at Westchester Community College, I heard him give a rather impromptu reading at an abandoned train station. His Victoria Secrets poem, which is funny if longish when read inside one’s head, made all eight of us laugh out loud. A practiced speaker–all that teaching, no doubt–he took our hilarity in quiet stride, using it almost like a chorus. Perhaps like a dog barking.

    jb says: Victoria’s Secret is long, but funny. I like the way he is self-conscious and conversational, even on the page. Here he is reading Sweet Talk.

  2. Jasko says:

    this is certainly an extraordinary poem, I did some inquiry on line and I have found more of Billy’s poems, I am quite amazed, thanks for helping me to discover this, and by the way I had the neighbor’s dogs barking last night, as usually. this poem prevented me from doing something I might regret. CZESŁAW MIŁOSZ once said something like this – What is the purpose of poetry if it does not save people or nations?

    jb says: Hi Jasko. Thanks for the comment, and it’s good to know you’re enjoying the poems.
    From Milosz’ Ars Poetica:

    The purpose of poetry is to remind us
    how difficult it is to remain just one person,
    for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
    and invisible guests come in and out at will.

  3. Jim Murdoch says:

    I know Collins is held in high esteem by many, at least I assume he is the way his name gets batted about, but I’ve not read much by him. I’ve not avoided his work but then neither have I sought him out.

    I do like this piece; it’s very effective. And a good example of how a thoughtful title can make a piece. It’s the kind of poetry we need. Funny and meaningful at the same time.

    jb says: Hi Jim. I don’t know his work very well either. And, yeah, the title’s a real hook.

  4. Matt Gagnon says:

    That is an amazing poem, the title is super interesting and creative.

  5. sulumits retsambew says:

    very interesting poem i am so impress.

  6. Eray says:

    A good poem. I love also reading and writing. I love essays but also write poems…

  7. I enjoyed the poem and know what the author was feeling; I live over a shop which plays loud music all day. I have to work somehow ignoring the bass line which comes through for 10 hours or more per day.

  8. Annabelle says:

    marvelous poem

  9. halı yıkama says:

    A Poem by Billy Collins | John Baker’s Blog great article thank you.

  10. Rusli Zainal Sang Visioner says:

    nice share, i enjoy read this poem…thank you

  11. Joe says:

    An interesting poem there. Makes me think back to where I used to live with a few dogs barking constantly in the street – always felt like I wanted to shut them up, even just for the night.

  12. Victor WP says:

    I can somehow relate to this poem. There are just some things that annoy us that we just have to ignore because we might do something we will probably regret in the future.

  13. chelsea says:

    What if you lived in barking?

  14. mth says:

    I am picking really good stuff from your blog 😀 thanks

  15. Mike says:

    I think hes funny 🙂 i do like hes style, he helps create a funny image. I pictured my dog as i am a dog lover. Anyway im going to look all over your blog for more. 🙂

  16. olivia says:

    billy collins’ poetry does ring with humor – until the second or third reading. then, the veils drop, one by one, revealing the deep, deeper meanings, in all their poignancy; fragrant as the peeled back layers of a many-petaled rose. and often, tears follow the laughter.