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Tom Barlow

An Anonymous Note Asks That I Tend to My Hedges

Other's lilacs have taken to shouting.
It is their time, and all up and down the street
my neighbors crank their windows open
to bushes they have lovingly nurtured,

but my windows remain shut. I don't care
to have spring's perfume imposed upon me,
for it would only interfere with the
grumble I have worked so hard to cultivate.

The author of the note has misunderstood,
presuming he or she is welcome to cajole me back
into the noose by which their pleasantry is suspended,
but a man has the right to brood, does he not?

Even in spring, he has the right to take offense
where perhaps none was intended, which is what
it means to be human. We shape the world we see
with our own hands: a clip here, a snip there

and, voila, a masterpiece is born, a goddamn
masterpiece which I will set on fire to send smoke
boiling down the street and just you watch
those windows slam shut now.
Tom Barlow is an Ohio writer of poetry, short stories and novels.  His work has appeared in journals including Ekphrastic Review, Voicemail Poetry, The North Dakota Quarterly, The New York Quarterly, The Modern Poetry Quarterly, and many more. See more at
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