Bark Like a Dog, Beg Like a Human

bark like a human beg like a dog, by Illian RainI didn’t sleep much on vacation. Disappointing, I know.

The sun rises early and to shutter the blinds is to shun the scent of the sea-breeze sweetened by earth and foliage. At bedtime I don an improvised onesie—socks over hands—to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

The morning rains are a gorgeous fury of unrequited love between cloud-cover and sun-worshippers and they insist on waking me to witness their grief. Oftentimes before sunrise. The taste of those tears is exquisite.

But most of all I do not sleep for the dogs.

“Dogs in Barbados love to bark.” Yes they do. My mother (in-law) is sufficiently habituated to this daily hostage-taking and is no longer wakened by this tardy Twilight Bark. Yes, one dog barking inspires a chain letter of canines to join the fray, their nocturnal silence ensuring they are in fine voice before dawn.

According to Cesar Milan “ongoing, excessive barking…is your dog’s way of sending you a distress signal. Somewhere his needs as an animal are not being met.”

Er, I bark sometimes.
I’ve been barking often these days.

My ululations are shaped like words and take the form of intelligible sentences, but they are not. Ongoing, excessive vocalizing is little more than a valve to depressurize the anxiety building inside until it debuts on the outside via one unhinged tongue.

This deliverance bears no relation to words selected with purpose and ordered for understanding. This deliverance is nothing more than a desperate Hail Mary to breach the imperviousness of someone I cannot reach, someone I can no longer feel and who does not, for whatever reason, feel compelled to reach me.

And so I rush in with the stench of now seeping from my pores because later rarely arrives with such people. Yes, I have thrown audio shit at other people’s walls of silence to find something—anything—that will stick.

And should that fail I may find myself barking. Ongoingly, excessively, previously unable to give it a name or define it.

At such times neither thought nor articulation matters—it is the desperate, dry cry of unaddressed need that, like the dogs before me, I am lacking the faculties to address.

I have known, vaguely, that I sometimes substitute the language of animals where the voice of humans should be. That I can express this is new to me, and it is a truth that does not blink.

And if it does not blink then why the hell should I?

I am disconnected from myself during these blitzes, anxiety and lack of connection driving me onward rather than inward.

But that’s what writing is for, isn’t it?

Yes, and no. The ‘yes’ is obvious here; the ‘no’ less so. Writing is a carver’s tool, an archeologist’s tool, a dreamer’s tool. The power of speech belongs to the realm of extroverts, politicians, and scriptwriters.

Only it doesn’t, for writers must necessarily grasp the rhythm and trajectory—the intentions behind speech—or we fall short.

Given my perchance to howl inappropriately, I have fallen short.

I have failed to accord sufficient respect to a form of communication often derided as less-than in comparison to the written word (Please—take a moment to laugh at the shortsightedness of this conviction. I already have.)

My fountain of uncontrolled words is suspect; my need to snag the non-listener on a phrase or word or idea that will elicit an engaged response equally so. I am a beggar at times, though begging isn’t my style.

Until it is.

I’m torn between admonishing myself for this futile neediness (futile because no need can be fulfilled by such action) and re-examining relationship where this circumstance routinely occurs. It is not my normal state. It is not how I do.

Until it is.

Words matter, even when detached from paper. Even when left suspended in particles of air that others can breathe in or not. Compulsive, unexamined abuse of said resource is wasteful, akin to pouring Dom Perignon down the drain to clear the grease and open that hungry, metallic maw once again.

This futile barking is a distraction of self through a means rather than a focused striving toward an end.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

As my brain cools to its default Canadian temperature the sound of my own compulsion begs forgiveness while demanding examination. It is difficult to think in the company of an insistent sun or by the light of a moon that cools the palette of the eye but not the coursing of overheated blood.

I will try to keep my barking to a minimum, my howl reserved for the moments of justifiable need. A dangerous game to be sure, as need is usually suspect. I can, however, strive to neither beg like a human nor bark like a dog, though I reserve the right to bite when necessary.

11 thoughts on “Bark Like a Dog, Beg Like a Human

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  1. God, Illian, this last blog post is so good, thanks is hardly adequate, and trying to discuss it makes it trivial (of little value or importance), so, just No… your genius is showing, I feel like you are really casting pearls before swine NOW, so, I can only thank you with an animal ‘oink’. Bay away…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jacks–I can’t tell you how much this comment means on both a personal and writerly level. You are such a wonderful storyteller and accomplished, no-bullshit human being that I almost can’t wrap my head around the fact you like my work. Thank you friend, it means the world to me. xo

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  2. Saw a good quote on one of the points you have made here- to be a good writer you must have the paradoxical trait of being a gregarious loner. This post was quality… riddle after riddle. A great concluding line too. Sometimes I wish you would do a synopsis in bullet points for bloody minded people like myself (which fits into the general theme of the post I believe).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a great quote! I’ve often felt that paradox without being able to summarize it so succinctly but it is incredibly true. And thank you for the thought on my concluding line. You know, maybe I SHOULD start summarizing, I wonder if it would take me deeper into what I’m pondering as well as clarifying where I’m going with these thoughts for everyone else… 🙂

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