The Dogs

Sleep is good for your health 
but the dogs 
all night long 
outside your window. 
Not just one thin howl 
scything at the air, 
they perform a chorus 
with an encore lopped on the end 
just to push you over. 
It pays not to think of the content 
of a chorus of dogs, 
or the inspiration 
for such a production, 
as that will only 
drive you further. 
‘Your health is suffering,’ 
the doctor says. 
A man is about to swing a spade 
at the back of an unsuspecting someone’s head, 
and he would, 
if only the dogs would stop barking. 
There is one bit in the movie 
where your sister always jumps to her knees 
and squeals ‘Oh no! Here it comes!,’ 
so you can never hear 
the actual thud of collision 
of stockinged brick and skull. 
The thud itself may in fact be the point of it 
but you can’t even think 
your theory through 
because of the dogs yapping at each other 
in dialogue. It becomes all you hear 
and think about, and soon 
you wonder if you can speak ‘Dog’ 
purely through osmosis. 
On recollection, you think the dogs 
have ruined every important moment 
in your life. 
School ceremonies, marriage proposals, 
segments of silence 
in the park. Always a dog 
barking out of turn, running 
through the scene, 
or wearing a dog-sized cardigan 
in an absurd colour. 

The Waterbed does New York

When I asked you to write a story 
about your afternoon, I meant something 
that had actually happened to you. 
There is a mighty gap 
between creativity and lying. 
Waterbeds can not call your bluff, 
and can not dislike persimmons. 
. . . 
I mean there is personification 
and then there is personification. 
. . . 
And a waterbed’s eyes can most definitely not 
‘narrow as though in a Western showdown’! 
Do you understand me?! 
Yes, Miss. 
Personification and personification. 
That much is clear. 
She doesn’t have to sleep with the damn thing, does she. 


Louise Wallace is a Wellington poet, currently working and writing in Japan, whose heart belongs to Gisborne. Her work appears in the latest issue of Meanjin (Vol. 65, No. 3).