The Poems “Suburban” and “Walking the Dog” both have titles that don’t quite give an accurate depiction of the poems subject. Which is an unexpected humor that involves dog shit and the dog owners involvement in it. The poems have many commonalities between them because of their similar topic, as well as the similarities in their common owners.
At the beginning of both poems the reader realizes the setting is within a suburban setting and involves a dog and his owner. They both seem to share the quite typical suburban neighborhood of the polite yet arrogant neighbors who really could care less about one another but, are phony nice upon contact. For example, Mrs. Friar in the poem “Suburban” says to Mr. Ciardi “The fact is your dog has just deposited – forgive me – a large repulsive object in my petunias.” and then goes on to say “I always have loved dogs . . . but really!”, in regard to the large bowel movement that had just been removed from her petunias. Its funny to see how she is so proud and “respectful” that she can’t even call the dog feces “a large repulsive object” without saying “forgive me” before hand. Yet, she can make a big deal out of such a small thing like dog shit. The humor is seen in this also due to the fact that many readers probably have at least one to several Mrs. Friar’s in their neighborhood.
Of course, one of the main things that these poems have in common with one another is their overall mild vulgarity in describing their dogs, as well as other dogs, shit. This is also a key humor point in both poems as well. Take for example the line in “Suburban” where Mr. Ciardi thinks to ask Mrs. Friar “Have you checked the rectal grooving for a positive I.D.?”. By this of course he means to check the grooves in the dogs anus to see if it matches with the grooves in the shit. It’s like the small suburbs version of matching a bullet with a gun, which is actually quite humorous. It almost seems like a parody of CSI or one of those crime shows. In “Walking the Dog” the narrator goes into detail describing the shit, saying that he and his canine companion “know its every state / From steaming fresh through stink to nature’s way / of sluicing it downstreet dissolved in rain / or drying it to dust that blows away.” Sure, its not as bad as rectal grooves but, “sluicing it downstreet”, that’s still pretty gross. These mild vulgarities give off a humor in a sort of “potty mouth” sense of the word.
One construction of feminism in the poem is female dominance over men. The Beast is shown as the weaker of the male culture due to his unappealing image “ugly as sin”. The Beast sees the narrators seeming interest in him as a miracle and is portrayed as desperate to keep her attention even it means living with her neglect. Here we see that the there is a reversal of gender stereotype as the Beast ...
The last major thing that the two poems share is the overall message they portray, which may seem hidden to some of the readers. The end of the poem “Walking the Dog” shows this best with the line “And just to show who’s master I write the poem.” Both poems ask the question of who is really the master in this dog and owner relationship. If one really thinks about it they would see that it was the owner in the poem “Suburban” going to clean up after the dog; and it was the owner being dragged from place to place so that the dog could go to the bathroom in “Walking the Dog”. So, really the dog is the master in the relationship, which is also quite humorous because many readers can probably relate to this as well.
This poem had many subtle humorous aspects that may not have been caught by the reader after first read through. They’re also quite similar in there humorous aspects and surprising enough not all the humor lies around the dog shit in both poems, but with the people and their actions and how they treat the situations to which they are involved in their quaint and practical suburban setting .