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The Man Who Loves Better Homes & Gardens
David Alpaugh

is puttering, evenings, weekends, inspecting his gutters,
plucking out loquats, acorns, eucalyptus leaves, 
so the still far-off November rain can leave 
his roof quickly, with elegance. He hales forth 
bindweed from the chinks between sidewalk slabs,
star thistle from the caulking around the pool 
where gangster grasses shoot their way to glory. 
Sometimes during high wind a shingle breaks 
loose in the night and clatters onto the patio. 
Could he see in the dark he’d leap out of bed, 
climb his aluminum ladder and wedge the cedar 
shield back in place—before the roof rats 
got wind of it. He lies there waiting for dawn.
Like model before mirror, he cannot sit on his deck 
Sundays without discovering fresh enemies to beauty. 
There’s a gopher hill beside the spa, sprung-up 
overnight like a mushroom; and on the lawn
a real mushroom he’d swear wasn’t there 
last evening. The forces of darkness have flung 
a beer bottle over the fence. It’s lying among 
his roses, crying, “This Bud’s for You!”
A shrike has eaten a finch or sparrow and left
beak, legs, feathers dangling from a twig
on his ornamental pear. His right hand flashes
forth in love and anger—drops bird in trash 
can, bottle in compactor. What a war!
From Heavy Lifting (Alehouse Press, 2007).
Used with the author’s permission.



David Alpaugh has been a featured poet at bookstores, colleges, cafes, and poetry organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area more than 100 times. His first full collection, Counterpoint, won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize from Story Line Press, and his poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals. David holds degrees in English from Rutgers University and the University of California, Berkeley, where he was a Woodrow Wilson and Ford Foundation Fellow. He was also a finalist for Poet Laureate of California. Learn more about David at



Post New Comment:
Glen Sorestad:
I love the poem -- and of course, I know the guy! Well done, David.
Posted 05/12/2014 08:17 AM
What a hopeless war!! Great poem.
Posted 05/12/2014 07:47 AM
Where is this man and does he have any extra time because I have a few projects at my house . . . .. Fun!
Posted 05/12/2014 05:59 AM
Good grief, this guy is us---all who buy the longed for ornamentals, dig, mulch, climb rickety ladders to de-leaf gutters,. . . This is, by-the-by, an incredibly elegant poem, one I hope the poet can sit and admire absent the annoyance of shrike trophies, Bud bottles(or buds out of season), for that matter). Bravura work start to finish, and--damn--there's a mole tunnel right next to the front walk. Where did I put the bait? (a small irrelevancy---Rutgers?---me too!)
Posted 05/12/2014 05:47 AM
This Bud's for you? Hilarious!! Loved the poem...
Posted 05/12/2014 04:51 AM
Ross Kightly:
What a war indeed! Some of us just go with entropy and enjoy the wild ride, but others still love the illusion of control... Nature is not submissive, whether it is Human or not. Nice, perceptive portrait of a familiar person in this poem. Many thanks, David.
Posted 05/11/2014 11:21 PM

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