Issue 4, Autumn 2007

The Logic for Improving a Neighborhood
-- from Thirst (2007) --
by Patrick Carrington

It’s 3 in the morning. My crazy neighbor’s
drunk and sleeping in the garden
under my window again. He snores
like a lawnmower, trimming
the rowdy edges off my dreams.

I’m willing to show him a little tolerance.
It’s more than just community spirit
or thanks for manicuring my nightmares.
He has fair reason to seek comfort
face down in geraniums. There’s something

sensible in flowers he can’t find at home.
They have a valid reason for being,
even if it’s nothing more
than the organized way they trick
the eye, con you into believing

in beauty again. His wife just knitted
a wool sweater for their toy poodle.
Overkill, he told her. It already has
a coat. Putting a sweater on a dog
is like topping off the ocean with a hose.

He offered to sharpen her focus
and shave the rodent first, waved
his straight razor like rat poison. It adds
a coziness to the block hearing I’m
not the only one in need of grooming.

She said if he was finally energetic, ready
to denounce death and ascend
from the lazyboy like Christ
to redeem their world, he could start

by repairing the shutters on the porch.
They’re hanging off the windows
like an unbuttoned shirt. He feels not
only a certain justice in that striptease

of rot, but also the same legitimacy
for existence as his bed of flowers.
The constant need to clothe it reminds
him of his naked history, the epic

of decay, how he lost a house of dreams
by degree, one shingle at a time,
each a piece of himself

he let go and can never quite reclaim.