Diane Payne

It was at exactly 2: 22 Mountain Time when all the dogs started barking and howling, no growling, no whining, and the Light Sleepers woke first, and started yelling hush, and the more Concerned Sleepers got out of bed to see why their dogs were barking, then stood by the window next to the dogs and wondered if there was another dog out in the yard, perhaps a cat, or a raccoon, or if a late night jogger just passed the house, and then more Sleepers woke, and some pulled the windows shut and placed pillows over their head, while others fretted because the babies were now awake, and the dogs continued barking, and there was no dissonance, no harmony because the dogs were determined, they didn’t even turn their heads to the proffered treats or the tossed balls, and then, at 2:38 the Sleepers got up and stood still and realized that all the dogs in the neighborhood were barking: the dogs outside in their puny pens, the dogs inside other homes, and in the deserts coyotes howled, and in the mountains the wolves howled even louder than the coyotes, and the newly born puppies who had been sound asleep cuddled next to young children were now out of bed and barking by a window, and the beagles were in their element, while the Pekingese, who rarely ever made a sound, stood by the windows, immersed in their newly found barking merging their barks with the baying Bloodhounds, and the Musicians went outside with their guitars, trombones, flutes, maracas, bongo drums, and harmonicas, and every now and then they hit a note that made the Queensland Heeler’s howl reach an incredibly high pitch, and at 2:47 The Angry Ones who continued screaming angrily at their dogs realized their voices had disappeared, and The Means Ones who kicked at their dogs, discovered their legs were now immobilized, and those who kept their dogs tied to a chain or in a pen were no longer in their soft beds, but tied to a stake or lying in a shit filled pen, and they whimpered and whimpered, and those tied to a stake cussed and swore and pulled and pulled until their eyes bulged and their necks swelled and they coughed and gagged until they couldn’t resist any longer, and the newly freed dogs took off running howling, baying, barking, joining unknown dogs scattered here and there, and then at 2:59 Tweeters were tweeting #BarkingDogs and discovered that all around the world Tweeters tweeted about #BarkingDogs, and they realized this barking was no random act of barking but a unified call and response, an organized form of protest and love, a means to cull The Undeserving from The Kind and Tolerant, and at 3:07 the dogs returned to their beds, And the Kind and Tolerant pet their pups, while some of The Newly Free dogs curled up in holes and beneath picnic tables, while the rest of The Newly Free took off running with an unknown confidence and spirit, while their humans remained in their shit-filled pens or tied to stakes.


Diane Payne’s most recent publications include: Obra/Artiface, Map Literary Review, Watershed Review, Tishman Review, Whiskey Island, Kudzu House QuarterlySuperstition ReviewBlue Lyra PressFourth RiverCheat River Review.,The Offing, Elke: A little JournalSouvenir Literary JournalMadcap Review and Outpost 19.  Diane is the author of Burning Tulips (Red Hen Press) and  co-author of  Delphi Series 5 chapbook.  She is the MFA Director at University of Arkansas at Monticello.