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Barking Dogs

Old Guy

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Barking Dogs

At night, under a pale moon,

or in the light of day,

and for no known reason -- they bark.

We shout and threaten,

send them scuttling for cover

and curse the mutts in language foul

for howling in that raucous chorus

of every dog for miles around.

And still, they slip the bonds,

bark and carry on,

for no reason we can see.

No reason we can see.

Yet, I wonder at scaled shapes glimpsed

from the corner of my eye.

I think of slave ships from Altair,

hidden on the moon's dark side.

Powered up, impulse engines at idle,

waiting -- just waiting for a chance.

"Fool!" you say and laugh and turn away.

"There are no feral hyper-ships,

no flesh markets on Altair.

Leave off your imbecile maunderings

and quiet that damn dog!"

I alone comprehend our danger, mortal.

Well, me and forty million hounds.

Yap at the moon, dear dogs.

Warn away those fearful ships,

replete with whips and chains.

Yes, Altair slavers fear our dogs.

Were they foes in ancient wars?

Did tooth and claw fight dripping fang

and coiling tentacles on blood-slick starship decks?

Sometimes I wonder.

Could dogs be cosmic heroes,

or just con artists in mangy fur?

Do they save us from a grisly fate?

Can we take that chance?

So quiet not your howling dog,

nor complain about the neighbor's mutt,

lest you succeed in silencing

our sentinels, our staunch defenders.

Pack your ears with cotton,

play music, drown the choir.

Small stuff my friend, small indeed,

compared to the salt mines of old Altair.



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