Why Dogs Don’t Weep

(For Aleah and Rayne)

our walk in the forest is not like the wolf’s:

we are merely interlopers, transients
we skim across its surface rather than really coming in
we see and sense so little of its complex world
that we are hardly there at all,
and its true inhabitants flee our shallow wake; they’ve heard
and sense
the danger that we giant, careless children pose.

in the forest, play is serious business:
it is how the young learn safely, and too quickly
the games are over,
the floppy ears become erect, to stay that way ’til death.

the purpose of civilization is to keep us from ever growing up
and so we stay
perpetual children:
helpless, ignorant, immature, obedient, dependent
first on parents, then on teachers,
then on employers and heads of state
all telling us not to worry, they will look after things, and
all telling us what to do,
so we need not think, dangerously, for ourselves.

we have not been of the forest for aeons.

to grow up would require us to take responsibility —
in the forest the children grow up quickly,
and accept that charge
but in our artificial world we shrug it off to higher authority,
to czars and priests and psychopaths
yet even these false adults
disavow the burden of duty to the world
and instead ‘play soldier’ and ‘play emperor’
while blaming the abject failings
of the civilization they pretend to steward
on yet higher phantom adults —
the market, or progress, or the gods.
and so we never grow up, we are children all
and we destroy the world without conscience, without guilt
we are only children,
it is the adults‘ fault.

and cats are only cruel when young
or sheltered in the play-houses of us growth-stunted humans:
their heartless games with helpless prey are learning exercises
that have lost their vital ancient purpose, and
like humans’ modern wars are merely acting out
the deadly rituals of play, now
without reason.

and dogs don’t weep
because they know there is no God.

(photo: National Geographic)

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10 Responses to Why Dogs Don’t Weep

  1. Aleah says:

    Thank you, friend. “and dogs don’t weepbecause they know there is no God.”Powerful words.

  2. Rayne says:

    Yes, powerful…but your poem makes me come to another conclusion entirely, Dave. Dogs don’t weep because they are God.It’s only us who’ve lost our way and become separate from God who weep. Thanks very much for this; gives me plenty of food for thought this week ahead.

  3. Zach says:

    Powerful? These seem to me to be the words of an angry and unhappy person. Anger is a defensive reaction occuring when one is afraid. If the underlying fear and insecurity is not exposed and dealt with it may cause chronic anger and depression. So why are you so angry with everyone?

  4. Rayne says:

    Zach, wish we could let you in the fence but this was a creation by Dave in response to a lengthy off-blog discussion between Dave, Aleah and me about philosophies and unanswered questions.In real estate they say the three most important things are Location, Location, Location; in poetry I think it may be Context, Context, Context. Dave, would you say that context defines one’s state of consciousness — and therefore language? ;-)

  5. Dave Pollard says:

    Zach: Your words seem to me to be the words of a passive and deluded person. Passivity and denial are defensive reactions occurring when one is cowed and browbeaten into acceptance of outrageous behaviour. If the underlying delusion and complacency are not exposed and dealt with they may cause disconnection with reality, and insanity. So why are you so complacent about everything?

  6. Dave Pollard says:

    This poem is meant to stand on its own, and I hope does not need the context of offline conversation. One of the things Aleah, Rayne and I have been discussing is the schism of language between philosophy, which aspires vainly to intellectual clarity and precision, and poetry, which is a more emotional, more consciously ambiguous form of communication, for better and for worse. They are both, as Eliot said, “raids on the articulate, the general imprecision of meaning”. I have learned that the meaning people take from writing is almost always astonishingly different from what the author intended, and the attempts of analysts, English teachers and other language hatchetmen to achieve consensus of “what the author meant” are generally hysterical, in both senses of the word. As long as it means something, even something different to each reader, it is a success. In philosophic or poetic writing, I foment dissatisfaction. That, it seems, is why I’m here. “The rest is not our business”

  7. Aleah says:

    I, too, believe that poems are not meant to be placed in context, but rather should stand alone – maybe even more so than any other form of writing. Poems are meant to inspire out of subjectivity rather than reason. In this case, it would seem that the reader was angered by the words he took from Dave’s poem (I am assuming it has something to do with the God reference – but that is only an assumption). I think the poem is simply stating the obvious state of disconnect between humans and nature -I found no unnecessary or hysterical anger here. Again, that is my take on it. Let there be room enough for everyone to leave with their own reactions to the poem. That’s the beauty of poetry. :-)

  8. Rayne says:

    Hmm. I guess I’m the odd-person out. I think context adds substantially to this particular piece — and to many other pieces that have stood the test of time. Shakespeare’s body of work, for example, is challenging if one does not understand the context of the culture in which he wrote. But I’m still with you, Aleah and Dave, this piece Dave wrote says much about the chasm between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom in terms of their relationship with the world around them.

  9. Zach says:

    Am I pushing your buttons? My point was you have called humanity “giant, careless children” as well as “helpless, ignorant, immature, obedient, dependent.” You seem to have a poor opinion of humanity in general. What could cause that? So I’m passive, delusional, and complacent because I no longer want to get angry with the world over all the dumb things we all do? I’m not perfect so how can I expect anyone else to be? I get scared, I “conform,” and I frequently behave badly, you could even say “outrageously.” But if you really know this about yourself how can you judge others so harshly?

  10. Maria says:

    I don’t know

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