The landlord is having our house painted.
The four of them are out there now: the landlord, his son,
the painter, his helper. They've surrounded the house;
it seems like there's someone in white coveralls
outside every window.

I type at my terminal as if I'm alone
and there's no scraping or sawing within earshot.
As if there's no human figure standing
at the now screenless window,
rasping away at the peeling brown paint.
If I look up, or I go outside,
I won't be able to pretend they're not here.

How can our landlord smile like that?

Through the slats in the mini-blinds,
I can see him torturing a sprawling rosemary bush that
I've planted too near the garage.

The place has had termites for quite some time now;
you can see brown dusty piles of termite droppings
all around the walls. This is a hell of a time
for our landlord, who is not a young man,
to care about termite damage.

His son puts a cement saw to the base of the garage wall
to expose the foundation. The termites will move on, no doubt,
because of the noise and our landlord's excessive good cheer.


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