Charles Bukowski

The House

from "All's Normal Here"; 1985

They are building a house half a block down and I sit up here with the shades down listening to the sounds, the hammers pounding in nails, thack thack thack thack, and then I hear birds, and thack thack thack, and I go to bed, I pull the covers to my throat; they have been building this house for a month, and soon it will have its people...sleeping, eating, loving, moving around, but somehow now it is not right, there seems a madness, men walk on top with nails in their mouths and I read about Castro and Cuba, and at night I walk by and the ribs of the house show and inside I can see cats walking the way cats walk, and then a boy rides by on a bicycle and still the house is not done and in the morning the men will be back walking around on the house with their hammers, and it seems people should not build houses anymore, it seems people should not get married anymore, it seems people should stop working and sit in small rooms on 2nd floors under electric lights without shades; it seems there is a lot to forget and a lot not to do, and in drugstores, markets, bars, the people are tired, they do not want to move, and I stand there at night and look through this house and the house does not want to be built; through its sides I can see the purple hills and the first lights of evening, and it is cold and I button my coat and I stand there looking through the house and the cats stop and look at me until I am embarrassed and move North up the sidewalk where I will buy cigarettes and beer and return to my room.

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