Firework phobia


His body shakes so hard
I can feel it in the floor.

A cartoon dog –
Scooby-Doo confronted
By the old man in the monster mask.

But this panting, whining
Circling like a colicky horse
Are real enough:

The wolf’s fear, untouched by evolution,
In the face of fire
Or at the slightest scent of man.

How to tell him
That those distant detonations
Are benign:

How to calm a terror
Of the unknown
And incomprehensible.

Counter to my intuition
The books and experts tell me:
Don’t stroke him, offer comfort.
Every soft word and caress
Will only make things worse.
Let him work it out himself.

So I keep my distance,
Carry on. And in my pretending,
Fool neither myself nor him.

At this moment
The bridges between the species
Are all blown.

And in his reproachful, staring eyes
I see myself accused
Of siding with the enemy.

8 thoughts on “Firework phobia

  1. Hi Nick,

    Lovely lines here, “How to calm a terror Of the unknown
    And incomprehensible.”
    Aww this is so sad, betrail, from ears to tail, he shivers. Really, dogs can be so scared of fireworks, I remember that from our own dog, and now, on top of all this terror, you let him down too (in his eyes). Never mind the books and experts, I think he could do with a hug. 🙂

    I love this poem, how you describe the struggle: comfort the dog or ignore. Yes, how is it possible that our domestic wolf became so scared of bangs and flashes of light?

    Now I am afraid of big bangs too, they spontanuesly make me cry, so I hate 31 December. If I had my say, your dog and I would sit that day and night out somewhere very remote!

    Did ignoring help btw? Because if it did, maybe those B&E were right!


    • He did very well last night: there were lots of bangs and crashes outside, but he was quite calm and not nearly as panicky as he’s been lately. We didn’t make a big fuss of him, so I think the B&E know what they’re talking about. Sussex is absolutely fireworks-mad, I’m afraid, so you wouldn’t like 31 December here, either!

  2. This really hit home Nick.

    My lovely golden retriever, Jack, is definitely a “scaredy-dog”!
    I really feel for him, but I don’t think he will ever work it out for himself! He lies on the floor right next to me and if I move he moves, follows me everywhere and I can’t resist patting him in what I think is a very comforting manner.But I guess that’s for me rather than him!

    You have captured this whole troublesome scene so very, very well. Brilliant!


    • They are silly, aren’t they? Our lad is downstairs now, listening to the one-hour thunderstorm recording we’ve just bought him from iTunes. We’ve got it turned down low to start with and, so far, he’s been fine. The idea is to crank the volume up slowly over time until it’s just another noise. This may take a while…glad you liked the piece.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.