Misplaced Rug

by Hal Sirowitz

I knocked on the door
of our old house in Long Beach,

father said. The couple living
there had bought it from

the person I sold it to. So
the current owners didn’t know me

from Adam. “What do you want?”
the man says from behind a partially

open door. “I just want to look around,”
I said. “I used to live here. I felt

this need, since I was in the hood,
of saying hello to some old memories.”

“We don’t feel comfortable having
you in the house,” he said.

“We don’t know you.” “I can come
back at a better time,” I said. “You

must have misunderstood me,” he said.
“We don’t want to know you. Good-bye.”

Before he closed the door, I took
a peek inside. They had a poor excuse

for a rug hanging on the staircase. I may not
know a lot about interior design but the one thing I know

is that a worthless rug is supposed to be on the floor.
They probably didn’t want me to see more examples of their bad taste.


Hal Sirowitz is the author of four books of poems, Mother Said, My Therapist Said (Crown/Random House), Father Said, and Before, During & After (Soft Skull Press). His work has been translated into nine languages including Icelandic and Turkish. Garrison Keillor has read his work on NPR’s Writer’s Almanac and he has included Hal’s poems in his anthologies, Good Poems and Good Poems for Hard Times. Hal has performed and appeared on MTV’s Spoken Word Unplugged, PBS’s Poetry Heaven, NPR’s All Things Considered, and Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, Hal is the former Poet Laureate of Queens, New York.

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