“The Neighbor” by Manuel Paul López

Manuel Paul López


He cuts his grass three times a week,
Never more, never less
And sometimes I catch him on his porch at night
Small lump at his center drooping
Over the elastic of his shorts
His garage is an immaculate jewelry box.
So much so, that I wouldn’t be afraid
To lick a pipe, or rim a corkscrew.
His one car and two pick-up trucks
Glisten in the sun
Sitting on the carport
Like a queen aside the brawn
Of two heavy generals.

I often wonder how he sleeps at night
If he dreams
If he wonders
If he’s smelled romance

He’s always outside,
Pestering the soil
The air
The peace
Like the mockingbird
That litters the hood of my car
With shit.

He and his wife hardly speak
Passing each other like two guards in a palace

As the grass grows and grows.

My mind wanders
What could he have possibly done to her
Or she to him

What if, I thought, he strayed?
Fucked her best friend on bedsheets
That told the story like a newspaper

Or maybe he socked her one,
Too many times beneath too much makeup


Or maybe he simply did nothing
But watch the grass grow and grow.

from Rattle #15, Summer 2001


Manuel Paul López: “I currently work for the Imperial County Office of Education. I have already gotten caught three times writing poetry on the job. Oh well.”

Rattle Logo