When Neighbors Can’t Be Neighbors Bop

When Neighbors Can’t Be Neighbors Bop

—for the refugees


by Curtis L. Crisler


Grump’s plan—to stand fences so neighbor can’t see Grump’s eyes.

All neighbor hears—murmurs, a shrill buzzing instrument—

a circling of fussy gnats, invisible, at height of the fence.


Grump hands toss countries over barrier, don’t want that “debris”

in his yard. Grump hands want spotless life, no dislodged hearts

or babies, no dislodged longing for back there, older cities.


      Somebody’s knocking at the door,

            somebody’s ringing the bell.


Good knocking lets neighbor hands exchange casserole dishes, apple pie.

Bad knocking is a diamond needle stuck in the groove of scratched

memories, a wedging in the heart’s glovebox, hiding your


first-aid kit, or a perennial Phillips head screwdriver that never fixes or gets

used, but just rusts. A precaution for caution, for that love-box of equity.

Oh, to decree for love. Oh to nourish for love. Then, to stomp


love into sordid sod, expecting lilacs to grow? Neighbors saw Grump push down

his boot on the shovel’s head, knows Grump has dreams to be neighborless.


      Somebody’s knocking at the door,

            somebody’s ringing the bell.


With all the chitty-chatter earmarking walls, establishing borders, donning

defenses, how can a neighbor exact the landscape that a neighbor must

traffic on foot? How can neighbors discuss the alikenesses shared


no matter the publicity of fear, of angry teeth? And if Grump’s not searching

for two hands to make a sound, two voices to linger about each other’s flower

bed, how can a neighbor be born if “neighbor” can never be a noun?


      Somebody’s knocking at the door,

            somebody’s ringing the bell.


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