An Unwritten Law
by Robert Laughlin
The laws of physics that exist
Aren’t always written down to read,
Including one that shoppers for
A home would benefit to heed:
The noise that thoughtless people make
Steps up and up as you recede.
Your landlord didn’t say a thing
About the tenant right next door.
She sleeps by day; at night she screens
Her DVDs till three or four.
Her giant speakers generate
Vibrations in your bedroom floor.
You chuck the flat and get a house
In a suburban cul-de-sac.
The neighbor kids are metal fans;
They form a band and then attack.
Their daily jams are arguments
For banning aphrodisiacs.
A ranchette next, two acres worth.
Just lots around, no perils lurk,
No neighbors yet—-but soon a man
Puts up his house. And then this jerk
Tows in a hundred cars; his lust’s
A different kind of body work.
This time you’re in the hinterlands.
The only house but yours would seem
A quarter mile away. You sleep
And have a sadly shortened dream.
Your neighbor’s training, dawn to dusk,
For the Olympic rifle team!
Bio: Robert Laughlin lives in Chico, California, in a Craftsman bungalow that awaits restoration by some well-heeled future owner.