The Neighbor

My Uncle


in a working class neighborhood


His home

was so close

to the tracks

that it would stir the drink in your hand

when the locomotives

would thunder by


You could see

the factory

he worked in

from his backyard

Each shift change


throughout the neighborhood

by a high-pitched buzzer


I used to leave his house

late at night

long after his neighbors had gone to sleep

I would walk


under the canopy

of oak trees


I would walk past your house

and admire

the tranquil

stone Buddha

sitting in your front lawn



the floods came


The factory

pumped toxins

into the neighborhood

behind them

rather than

devise a suitable plan

when the first flood hit

five years earlier


My Uncle’s house

is no longer standing

No more Leonard Cohen albums

or boxing matches

no more conspiracy theories

or Bukowski novels

just green grass

where a house

used to stand



when I drive by your home

the Buddha is gone

and so are you

Your windows

are now covered

in fading

yellow newspaper

Birds sing

from the pines

behind your house

their song

full and sad

like the blues





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