Learn To Whistle

A Poem About Marmaduke And The Illusion Of Freedom

The bitter cold befell the fencéd yard,
The leaves have left the bare and neighb’ring tree,
The ground betrod by beast gone packed and hard,
The birds, before they migrate, make a feast
Upon the treats left in the bauble here,
A hoisted house upon a frigid pole
A home for none, yet fashioned homely dear,
Aloft, away and safe from beastly souls.
The hound a thousand days has watched this box,
Its tenants, ever cycling, come and go.
The hound knows these alone have shook their locks,
Though how they spend their freedom, he’ll ne’er know.
But studiously has he built the skill,
More birdlike has he made himself these years,
To fly, perchance, escape th’ perennial chill,
Make bluebirds ‘stead of beasts his unchained peers.
The mind within a hound could not have known
Wholesale the avian traits need not acquire,
But start he in on whistling, not to hone
The flight which would have loosed him from the mire.
Nearby a neighbor, alien to the jailed,
Remarks with stupid brilliance how he’s failed.


Who among us, am I right? We see a greener pasture, maybe a new job. We know we need to prep if we’re going to take on a whole new lifestyle like zipping up a fresh new layer of skin. We build up the image of our new selves in our minds. Me, the new person. Me, the kind of person that lives in that new pasture. Me, adored by my interesting new peers. We get to the interview and they ask the million dollar question: “But, can you do the job?”

The one thing we forgot to prepare our minds for!

The truth, of course, is the bluebirds don’t have it so much better than a dog locked in a yard. Even the most intelligent bird in the sky, maybe the crow, doesn’t have the brainpower of a big dumb dog. Dogs seem to experience love and feelings and highs and lows, and birds just experience FOODFOODFOODSURVIVESURVIVESURVIVEHAVEBABIESSQUAWK.

Still, it might be nice to be able to fly south every once in a while. Even learning to whistle has its perks, I guess.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Hello to you.

This is Phil.


Image: “Marmaduke” by Brad Anderson