DID YOU USED TO BE A BAD BOY?

With rusted hedge clippers pointed generously 
my eighty-one year old neighbour says he hates 
to ask again about the chairs, two teal muskokas 
that I purchased on a whim 

So much of the suffering he has experienced, he says,
is due to simple misunderstanding. That’s why he hates 
to bring it up—if we could only understand each other
there would be no wars 

Or none that he could think of. When his wife was away, 
taking care of his daughter’s baby, newborn this past fall,
he would knock on my door to talk in the entranceway
tell me about wild nights

When he was a young man, at the clubs on Dufferin or
up by St. Clair. Clubs, he said, though I think he meant bars—
he told me briefly of the women that he met there, 
how he was wild in his youth

If the chairs he now wants me to move had been on our front porch
we might have sat and talked. I understand now
he was lonely—when his wife came home
I could hear them fight

But I wondered after why he thought his stories would be
appealing to me. What about my life he had glimpsed
in my five years of living above him, that made him think
I would want to know

What entrances and exits, what sounds and glimpses,
how it all must have seemed to someone underneath

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