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Original Poem: "The Barking Dog of Karma" with Commentary

Updated on April 15, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Writing poetry became my major composing activity circa 1962, and taking a creative writing class in 1963-64 deepened my growing interest.

A Barking Dog

Source

Introduction and Text of Poem, "The Barking Dog of Karma"

“The Barking Dog of Karma” separates the men from the boys in terms of the effects of karma on dreaming. The reader might ask, “is it that Karma is the bitch or is it dreaming that is the bitch”? Either way it’s a fun poem to kick around.

This poem will appear in my forthcoming collection titled, “As Tulips Dance and Sway.”

The Barking Dog of Karma

O how one can suffer that fine line
Between dream and nightmare!

Some dream ghosts whisk by nearly unremarkable:
No broken hearts, no public nudity, no murderers
Closing in on your heels, just puppies and ice cream,

While others baffle and throw you off kilter.
They invade, painting you in a scene
You would never have willingly entered.

Why should you couple with this one
For whom you have no attraction in the light of day?
Who seems to walk out of some distant past

Entering the space occupied by another—
Recognized, yet unrecognized, in this dream-mare?
Karma is sometimes a bitch that barks at you

And other times growls, trying to get your attention
You suppose, but for what purpose?
You know you have seeds to burn. You know you could

Have been coupled in a past life. But why
Are you forced to revisit it now against your will?
Oh, you do know dreams come to you against your will.

You may enjoy some, scorn others; still, they come
Spewing forth from the old memory hole.
Life is a series of lessons; you have learned that much

From experience and God. You can control
What you do with your eyes open, but when you close them
And try to rest that brain and its soldiers, you would

Have your rest be peaceful and unfettered by past
Emotional, and possibly physical ties that time
And death and life again have broken—

Only God knows
How many times.

Commentary

I do not like dreaming. I wish I would just sleep and not dream. Luckily, I am becoming more apt to not remember most dreams. Dreaming is a karmic bitch, in my opinion.

First Movement: Dreams vs Nightmares

O how one can suffer that fine line
Between dream and nightmare!

The speaker begins with an effusion that suffering is the dude that can act as the "fine line" separating dreams from nightmares.

Second Movement: Common Dream Images

Some dream ghosts whisk by nearly unremarkable:
No broken hearts, no public nudity, no murderers
Closing in on your heels, just puppies and ice cream,

She then throws out some images that many folks may recognize from their own dream, for example, “public nudity”— who hasn’t dreamed of being naked in public? After a series of bad dreams though, she claims that some dreams may be as innocent as “puppies and ice cream.”

Third Movement: The Unthinkable

While others baffle and throw you off kilter.
They invade, painting you in a scene
You would never have willingly entered.

As “unremarkable" as the second movement's dream images may be, there are others that “throw you off kilter.” And who hasn’t had a dream that has upset them? You may do things in dreams that you would never do while awake.

Fourth Movement: The Ick Factor

Why should you couple with this one
For whom you have no attraction in the light of day?
Who seems to walk out of some distant past

Now, we get to the heart of the matter: this speaker is reporting that she dreams of having an intimate relationship with someone with whom she does not find attractive “in the light of day,” that is, when she is awake. She speculates that this unattractive person must be someone with whom she had a relationship in the “distant past.”

Fifth Movement: A Literal Karmic Bitch

Entering the space occupied by another—
Recognized, yet unrecognized, in this dream-mare?
Karma is sometimes a bitch that barks at you

She is happily ensconced in a relationship and is baffled by the intrusion of a lesser

occupier of that space. She then admits that the person seems both recognizable and unrecognizable in the “dream-mare.”

She complains, “Karma is sometimes a bitch that barks at you” — taking the term bitch quite literally.

Sixth Movement: The Bitch Growls

And other times growls, trying to get your attention
You suppose, but for what purpose?
You know you have seeds to burn. You know you could

While Karma might sometimes bark at you, trying to get your attention; other times it “growls,” but why the difference?

Especially since the speaker is one who knows about such things, knows she has karma to answer for, and apparently is in the process of doing so. She knows she “[has] seeds to burn.”

Seventh Movement: The Past Is a Bitch

Have been coupled in a past life. But why
Are you forced to revisit it now against your will?
Oh, you do know dreams come to you against your will.

She knows that she and the unattractive dream intruder could have had this intimate relationship in the past—in a past life!

But why on earth must she endure these nightly intrusions now “against her will” ? — she does know that "dreams come to you against your will."

Eighth Movement: Living and Learning

You may enjoy some, scorn others; still, they come
Spewing forth from the old memory hole.
Life is a series of lessons; you have learned that much

The speaker then avers that some dreams are enjoyable yet others are not. They just come “spewing forth from the old memory hole.” We all know we cannot control our dreams for the most part. The speaker states that living teaches one things, and she has learned some of them.

Ninth Movement: Controlling the Uncontrollable

From experience and God. You can control
What you do with your eyes open, but when you close them
And try to rest that brain and its soldiers, you would

The speaker has learned many lessons of life from “experience and God.” She understands that what she does while she is awake she “can control.” But when she is asleep trying to get some rest . . .

TenthMovement: Portals of Relief

Have your rest be peaceful and unfettered by past
Emotional, and possibly physical ties that time
And death and life again have broken—

The speaker wants to rest peacefully—not be bothered by phantoms messing with her body and her mind. She knows that all those deaths she has experienced were mere portals of relief. They broke each emotional and physical tie for the purpose of giving her rest.

Eleventh Movement: The Karmic Rest

Only God knows
How many times.

The speaker has no idea how many times she has had to die to erase the physical, mental, emotions ties she has endured. She wants rest. Will her Karma ever give her rest? Eventually . . .

At the Windmill Chapel, SRF Lake Shrine

Source

Life Sketch of Linda Sue Grimes

The Windmill Chapel

In the temple of silence
By the lake, we sit
In stillness, meditating
In divine Bliss.

Returning to our daily minds,
We walk out into the sunshine,
And the flowers greet us.

The Literary Life

After graduating from Centerville Senior High School in Centerville, Indiana, in 1964, Linda Sue Grimes completed her baccalaureate degree with a major in German at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1967. She married Ronald Grimes on March 10, 1973.

As a writer, Grimes focuses on poetry, short fiction, politics, spirituality, and vegan/vegetarian cooking, which results in her original veggie recipes.

Literary Studies

Although music was her first love, Grimes considers herself primarily a literary specialist as she creates her own poetry, studies the poetry and literary arts of classic writers, and writes commentaries about classic poems.

However, Grimes does continue to express her love of music by writing her own original songs, which she records, accompanying herself on guitar or keyboard. She shares her musical compositions at SOUNDCLOUD.

After completing the PhD degree in British, American, and World Literature with a cognate in Rhetoric/Composition at Ball State University in 1987, Grimes taught English composition in the English Department at BSU as a contractual assistant professor from 1987 until 1999.

Publishing History

Grimes has published poems in many literary journals, including Sonoma Mandala, Rattle, and The Bellingham Review. She has published three books of poems: Singing in the Silence, Command Performance, and Turtle Woman & Other Poems, and a book of fables titled Jiggery-Jee's Eden Valley Stories.

Grimes published her first cookbook in the spring of 2013, titled The Rustic Veggie-Table: 100 Vegan Recipes. She is working on a second cookbook and her fourth book of poems.

Currently, at Owlcation, Grimes (Maya Shedd Temple) posts her poetry commentaries. On LetterPile, she shares her creative writing of poems and short fiction, along with prose commentaries on each piece. She posts recipes resulting from her experimental cooking of vegan/vegetarian dishes. on Delishably. She posts her politically focused pieces at Soapboxie, and her commentaries focusing on music at Spinditty. Pieces on the writing process appear at Hobbylark.

Spirituality

Linda Sue Grimes has been a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda and a member of his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship, since 1978. A Kriyaban since 1979, she has completed the four Kriya Initiations, and she continues to study the teachings and practice the yoga techniques as taught by the great spiritual leader, who is considered to be the "Father of Yoga in the West."

Grimes practices the chants taught by the guru accompanying herself on the harmonium. She serves at her local SRF Meditation Group as one of the chant leaders.

Online Literary Presence

In addition to the contributions of her literary works to Owlcation, LetterPile, and SOUNDCLOUD, Grimes also curates her original creative literary pieces at her literary home, Maya Shedd Temple, on Medium, where she features her creative writing without commentaries.

Grimes also maintains an additional online presence on Facebook and Twitter.

© 2015 Linda Sue Grimes

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