I’d no desire to meet the man next door

who never had learned what a shovel was for

mailbox overflowed with bills, Forbes and Time

so I stayed on Joe’s side of the property line.

Summer showed up in May and I put on my skirts

watching Joe turning his grass into dirt

sometimes ketchup smeared, sometimes the beer spilled

food tasted of charcoal but the air smelled of grills


the sun got hotter so we moved slower

the grass next door never met with a lawnmower.

The neighbor, Joe said, was rude and liked booze

and later that June we finally got news


Joe’s roommate awaked to the gagging sound

of an officer sickened by what she had found.

She’d been sent over to investigate

but she had arrived about four months too late


Last winter, it seemed, had lasted forever

the man next door gave in and finally surrendered.

Either he was determined or considerate

for he chose the garage and he sealed his fate


Through all his drunk driving he’d managed survival

and now he decided to end it in idle

wrapping the windows in smell-proof tape

finalizing his need to never escape


That car kept on running while he was forgotten

slumped over the steering wheel, smushy and rotten

All these months I’ve been laughing, relaxing outside

never questioning if neighbors were dead or alive


And the thoughts of his actions now clutter my head

I think of his despair while I’m in Joe’s bed.

Joe’s breathing turns sleepy, but I stay awake

an etch a sketch horror I can’t seem to shake.

(written in 2008)


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