Tuesday poem: The terrace next door
June 4, 2012
The terrace next door
Seven kids and a parrot in a small terrace house.
Where squawking ended and shouting began
I could not say. But one sudden day, they spread wings,
left cage and house empty, my ears ringing on quiet.
Until six stoned students, without a single book,
set up camp. Smiling hammocks in the backyard sun,
contents content. Guitars, flute, piano-accordian,
folding time like an unwritten essay, due last week.
The six sixties clones left, sweet smoke signals blown.
Five rugby boys scrummed in, all frantic barbecues,
discarded runners, toxic socks smelt over fence,
and a screen bigger than the house, to pack in the front line.
Was it the four intense Vietnamese, who came next to next door?
Inexplicably neat, the terrace became clipped hedge suburban.
Or the three goths clothed in darkness who never met my eyes,
papers piling archaeologically on pavement, abandoned?
Better those times than the perfect couple’s renovating din,
as they improve the street out of sight, pave it with expectations.
Each hammer blow smashes the ex-rental like a musty egg,
as they grow golden equity, crack troops of one mortgaged dream.
‘The terrace next door’ won third prize in the NSW Writers’ Centre’s ‘Inner City Life’ contest, December 2007. Published on their web-site, January 2008, and read at award night in Sydney. Also published in Eureka Street, Vol 18, No 3, February 2008, and in my first poetry collection, The Glass Violin. Based on terrace houses I remember in Melbourne.
Now I live in a city without any terraces, of course. My house, built in the 1950s, is quite old for Canberra. Tragic, isn’t it?
I can’t guarantee more fine architectural/economic analysis, but I can guarantee more poesie. Click this feather and go to New Zealand, where I assume that there are more terraces than in Canberra, if not as many as in Melbourne or Sydney:
I must try and be more opinionated, as my blog as shrunk back to one poetic entry a week, on Tuesdays. I promise to try and work up a frenzy about some major issue, or think of a whimsical and touching observation on life (sorry, Life,) perhaps illustrated with a picture of a cat smelling flowers. If I do that, could someone arrange for a contract on my life? Thanks, discerning reader.
Take out the cat too.