For Sale By Owner (Revised)

The house down the street is for sale–
the house with the family we hardly know.
We’ve never really connected with them.
Maybe everybody is just too busy.

It’s embarassing-
this family is still a mystery to us after three years.
There’s an awkwardness when you go so long
without connecting with folks you see everyday,
but don’t really know.

They stay to themselves, and we do too,
and so does everyone else in the neighborhood.
The detached faceless society is not what I want, but
it seems a way of life for many of us today.
What can we do about it?
Walk up and give a stranger a hug? Maybe.

We gave the family a bouquet of flowers
when they first moved in,
hoping they’d feel welcome.
The mother waves and smiles sometimes
when we drive by, and we wave and smile back.
Other times, she looks the other way,
and so do we.
The father never looks our way.
Not sure why, but
he always finds something else more interesting:
his shoes, the dog, or his cigarette,
which glows orange in the dark
when he smokes outside at night.

The kids are teenagers, seemingly preoccupied
with their boyfriends and girlfriends.
Nice-looking kids.
They pull in and out of the driveway a hundred times a day,
which is typical for hormoned teens.
I have a hunch that the girl graduated high school this year.
I wonder if she’s going to college.

It’s strange, but there seems to be a point,
beyond which it is too late to get to know people.
Three years is that point in this case.
We don’t know why the family is moving.
We hope it’s for a good reason, and not
because something terrible has happened.

The family’s large fluffy white dog used to love
to stroll up and down the street.
The brooding father used to bellow at the dog
when it wandered too far.
The family never walks the dog,
which seems a little odd to us.
Haven’t seen much of the dog lately.
Maybe he gave up on the neighborhood too.
I wonder if he knows his family is moving.

I stopped last night
and took one of the marketing brochures
from the tube under the For Sale by Owner sign.
The big house is very pleasant-looking inside and out.
Lots of rooms for just four people.
Perhaps that’s why they’re moving.
Asking price for the house: $585,000.00.
Does that include the benefit of living
in a neighborhood without a sense of community?

Author: Don Iannone, D.Div.

Biography Photographer, poet, teacher, complementary medicine provider, interfaith minister, and former economic developer. Holds a Doctorate in Divinity, Master of Divinity, Master of Mind-Body Medicine, and Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology. Clinical certifications in Reiki, guided meditation, life purpose coaching, and spiritual counseling.  Author of 12 books, including two new books in the contemporary spirituality field. Learn more here. Contact Information Kosmos Consulting and Research website:  Visual Advantage Photography website: Flickr Photo Page here: Contact Don Iannone by email:

15 thoughts on “For Sale By Owner (Revised)”

  1. don, what I meant was that our other neighbours have always been there and we have very good relations with them. But that house had been kind of vacant. Always new people coming and going and before we get to know them the house gets sold.

  2. Well Don, thanks to you and this poem, I’m probably going to head over to my neighbours today and check out the koi pond, as he’s been asking for weeks now. See, your work isn’t just poetry, it’s a life-changing event. 🙂

  3. Thanks Floots. It sounds to me that you are doing just what you are supposed to be doing at this point in your life. I have too much busyness still in my life.

  4. nowadays
    i seem to spend more time watching the world than being a part of it
    like aurora (but for different reasons – i can’t claim to be overworked) 🙂
    i identify
    with the family
    this one made me think
    not bad for 07.00 🙂

  5. “beyond which it is too late/to try to get to know people” —> so true…

    hmm i might be guilty of not getting to know neighbors as well. this made me realize that alienation is pretty sad too…

  6. Aurora…Not blaming the family…at all. We don’t even know them really. I just feel badly that we don’t know them and they don’t know us. Thanks for the thoughts.

  7. Okay, I’m that neighbour. Kind of.

    I work a lot and don’t always have time to socialize. When I am home, I usually have an assignment to finish up and can’t visit too much with those who stop by.

    Except the part about them not walking the dog and the Dad sound kind of creepy.

    Hope you get better neighbours.

  8. it’s kind of sad, all the alienation. people seem unable to bond anymore…

  9. Gautami…thanks. We wish our neighborhood was more friendly. People keep to themelves. If you have young kids, they bring you together with neighbors. Take care.

  10. The apartment next to ours has been sold and resold several times. I wonder why. No one has stayed there for than two years at a stretch.

    Do I think I scare them off?

    I do like your poem. It is what set me thinking that I have not bonded with anyone who has come tio live there. With others I have a great going.

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