Bark howl squeak


I am a frightened dog. Have you ever seen a frightened dog?

The frightened dog is a frightened man-bear. The frightened dog will pee himself or bite you. The frightened dog will hide behind a blanket, a curtain, between your legs, or in the doorway that connects your kitchen and your dining room.

The frightened dog is an uncertain equation. I am a frightened dog. What should I do?

Being, as I am, a frightened dog, I feel naked, defenseless and – I don’t know – shocked. Like I’ve been strapped in a test car moving through an electric landscape, and the test is me, how well I will survive strapped in and shooting through the desertscape in the hot sun. I imagine me, my heart, my heart racing through and somehow escaping from sage and tumble into a wide open highway, hurtling over it with heart pounding bright and red until suddenly there is a stop and rest and water. This is a moment of respite from being a frightened dog, and I am starting to think again, about bookstores and libraries and word-landia, where being as I am is not necessarily a shock to someone’s system. Knowing that I will eventually be sucked back again onto that road.

I am not really a frightened dog, am I? No one ever really stopped the car and said get out, get out now and threw rocks at me. Stupid dog. I am more like a frightened idea, like a frightened idea of someone or some beast not sure where to go as the landscape breathes, a pattern of expand and contract, less of some things and so much, too much, of others.

No one ever really stopped the car and told me to get out. Not really. What they did, what they did and what left me wandering in full sun in the desert sage and willow was me, little creature, naked, more naked than any bluejay’s imaginings, and I am a child/bear/dog/coyote/man boy, masked and mystified by my own arrival, 7 days gone, on a beach in Baja, where my nakedness is more apparent. There is a low set of waves foaming at beach edge. There is a set of low waves lapping and licking at my naked toes and my appreciation of warm blue water. The water is warm and blue with little foam tongues, and I am a naked boy child walking in the tide until my ankles say that is enough. That is enough for little ones; tide coming in is fine, tide going out is danger.

I am wrapped in a towel, in a large yellow towel with a pattern of trailing red roses along the borders. The towel swallows me up. Inside it, I can hear beach voices – radio, seagull, human voice washing in and out rhythmically, smoothly. The waves recede, the voices rise.

The voices of humans rise as the tide recedes. Little shells with air pock the surface as water runs away. There are crabs and sand holes and apologists in the wet sand on the beach where later we will lie still, full of sandwiches and fruit. The crabs will march unoffended a few mere feet away. I wave at them, absent-mindedly. I imagine that they are waving back, grateful that there is room for some crustaceans here on the white washed sand. I whistle; somewhere, a crab steams and screams like an oncoming locomotive.

There is no chance of boarding the wrong train here, I think, and sit down one bench seat away from a man clutching a small cage, inside of which is a pink-eyed rat who watches me carefully, hopefully.

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6 Responses to “Bark howl squeak”


  1. 1 lollyloo June 24, 2008 at 11:21 am

    The dog, the beach, the rat … three episodes in the same dream?

    “The frightened dog is a frightened man-bear”… I saw an enormous brown bear pictured on a billboard today, along the freeway as I sat in a traffic jam (where a semi full of wallboard had oblitered a small gray hatchback). The bear was swimming in turbulent blue water and looking straight into the camera, and I thought again of were-bears. Bear people. Bear person.

  2. 2 Teresa June 26, 2008 at 2:43 am

    Hi Lolly mi loo

    I keep fiddling with this, and can see now that it is an escapist poem. See Shelby in there? with her heart pounding bright and red?

    Whee, let me out of here!

  3. 3 evescafe June 26, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Reading this I thought: I seriously need to get out more. Where do you go Teresa…where do you go? Good stuff.

  4. 4 Teresa June 26, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Hey there Ms. Eve — i’ve been shaping and fiddling with the edges of this piece since I wrote it on Monday and ohmygod it has turned into the tragically true story of the home-based therapist driving around in the scorching sun day after day.

    Who knew? I gotta tell Alyx to read it again, it’s wildly accurate, in a poetic kinda way.

    Guess maybe I get out too much.

  5. 5 Tek July 3, 2008 at 11:38 am

    ah you have seen me, met me, a frightened dog-womyn-bear caught between run and fight.

  6. 6 Teresa July 3, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    You got that, Tek. Running to, running away. Fighting for, fighting against. Times of change, you know?


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