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There Goes the Neighborhood

April 6, 2012

It’s that time of year again. No, not Easter or Passover. (Those too.) It’s National Poetry Month! And that’s just as well, because poetry and spirituality, I think, are inextricably connected.

This means I will try to, as in years past, present you with wonderful, celebrated poems. But I will also write a few myself. Because if I write in poetry rather than prose, I force myself to have an attitude adjustment. I might start out from a place of complaint, but the poem compels me to find some beauty, even if it’s just a whiff.

I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just where the poem always leads.

 

Teaching Poetry

I know, you want to give me an apple.

Don’t.

They sit in the metal bowl,

rotting. In this house,

all we want is cheese

and chocolate.

We will always take

a bit of chocolate.

 

There Goes the Neighborhood

Can you help me find

a poem

in that dog’s bark?

I long for silence,

but it is not allowed.

There are the children’s cries,

waking from their naps.

And there are the men’s cries

of making money.

And underneath, there are

my own.

 

Along our street,

the lawnmowers roam

from here to there.

 

Look out the window now

at the woman feeding her plants.

She gives them water

and picks off their dirty limbs

the way she must have wiped

her babies, decades ago.

 

Watch how she shifts from side

to side

as the dog howls.

It is an opus

only I can hear.

 

In this corner of

my neighborhood, I am

the weathered audience

for all the dogs who try to sing.

Maybe they are teaching me

what it means to love.

There is always someone standing

at the door,

for instance.

There is always a door

unopened.

 

Read more poems! Visit poets.org or download the Poem Flow App for your iPhone.

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