the dog’s ears itched
no one was there to clean them
he stopped barking
In this poem, on one level, there is a dog with itchy ears. The dog’s ears itch because they are dirty. The dog is alone, and for a while he barked hoping someone would help him and clean his ears. Once he realized though that no one would come, he stopped barking. He became resigned to the idea that he would get no help and his ears would itch.
On another level this poem is about the plight of an elderly person. In the poem the elderly person has some physical condition that is causing them discomfort. They need someone’s help to alleviate their condition. They call out for help for a while, but when no one comes, they stop calling. They become resigned to the fact that they are alone and that no one will help them.
The idea of the poem was to express a condition of helplessness. It was expressed overtly through the plight of an animal, but that was a metaphor for the plight of a person. In each case help is needed, it isn’t received, and sadly the circumstances are accepted.
An underlying idea of the poem is to encourage help for those that are neglected.