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It’s Not the Sound of Music


My wife and I live in a comfortable house in Santa Barbara,

In a neighborhood about a mile north of the freeway.

At night we sometimes hear the sound of big rigs and sports cars,

And occasionally a train bellowing like a wounded elephant.

During the day, cars, trains and airplanes,

The angry cawing of crows and the mild wisdom of doves.

There is also pounding and sawing of construction, mowing and blowing

And neighbors talking or babies crying.

Holidays, particularly, are loud with oohs and ahhs

At sports on television.

The foremost tumult, however, is the cacophony of barking dogs.

This noise starts at about seven am, and goes, off and on, all day long.

There are those that bark by themselves,

While others bark at each other, back and forth, some high pitched squeaks, others low growls.

Unlike most sounds, each bark an intrusion into our personal space.

We have complained with some effect to two neighbors

But there are so many others we are silenced by the size of the task.

Is there no balm in Gilead?

Thomas Scheff is a professor emeritus, UCSB Dept. of Sociology

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