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John Perrault

My Neighbor

Reality doesn’t do it for him,

and he doesn’t do it for me:  The willed

fantasy.  The self-delusion.  Fake news

making his day.  I say “us.”  He says “them.”

We both say “They live in another world.”

But in our worlds we both wear socks and shoes,

we both break bread.  I’ve seen him hug his children.

The last time we argued was over the fence.

Let me say, I was really angry once.

Nobody could come near me.  Then this woman—

this gentle, patient woman—took a chance

and laid her hand on my arm.  The human

touch.  So simple.  When I think of it I wince.

When I think of who I was and what one

woman did I look up at my neighbor’s house

and shake my head.  Let there be peace when he comes out.


Unhappy lot—

one less cottage on the coast.

Anybody know the cost?

Splinter of beadboard’s

all you’ve got left—

lath, plaster, piling up in the yard.

Old weathercock

of a place, tossed to the wind—

tight up against the tree-end

of that scrubby knoll,

pines bending back.

Last night, waves breaking right to the wall.

No confidence

in what’s coming.  What’s leaving

makes a good life look the wrong

way on its way out.

You had your dance

in the dunes.  Your row around the gut.

Bushes, post, fence,

shingles, studs, boards, bricks, windows—

the works—bet you ten truck loads.

Haul it off for good

and good riddance.

Look at you, clutching your stick of wood.

John Perrault is the author of three books and nine CDs. His poetry has appeared widely. He has a chapbook forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. John was Portsmouth, NH, Poet Laureate 2003-2005.

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