The living rooms of my neighbors are like beauty parlors,
like night-club powder rooms, like international
port first-class lounges. The bathrooms of
bors are like love nests Dufy prints, black Kleenex,
furry towels, toilets so highly bred they fill and
without a sigh (why is there no bidet in so-clean
America?). The kitchens of my neighbors are
cars: what gleaming dials, what toothy enamels,
gines that click and purr, idling the hours away.
basements of my neighbors are like kitchens; you
eat off the floor. Look at the furnace, spotless
as a breakfront, standing alone, prize piece, the
of the household.
But I'm no different. I arrange my books with a view to
their appearance. Some highbrow titles are
nently displayed. The desk in my study
littered; after some thought I hang a diploma on
wall only to take it down again. I sit at
where I can be seen. What do my neighbors
me I hope they think of me. I fix the light to
the books. I lean some rows one way, some
A man's house is his stage. others walk on to play their bit
parts. Now and again a soliloquy, a birth, an adultery.
The bars of my neighbors are various, ranging from none
at all to the nearly professional, leather stools,
matic coolers, a naked painting, a spittoon for
The businessman, the air-force captain, the professor with
tenure it's a neighborhood with a sky.
Reprinted with permission
from The Bourgeois Poet
Copyright © 1964
by Karl Shapiro