High Coo–In Which Your Poet Parents Get Caught in Red Tape

Dear Lily June,

Some people see poems as extraordinarily complex little puzzles.

Like they were Rubik’s cubes you set to spinning and spinning until the rainbow within them clicks into submission, poems, some people think, are to be organized into their parts, lined up nice and neat until each of their words of each of their lines sings one song of meaning in unison: here a line of red squares, there a line of green.

Your dad and I have never been these people.

For us, the joy in the poem is in wandering into it like it were a labyrinth, only instead of trying to solve it by making our way to some core center, we move right in amidst the brambles and the thorns, making the unruly hedges our walls and whatever was visible of the sky above our ceiling.

I think I mean to say that it’s been a bit of high-water hell house-hunting.

I think I mean to say your parents have had to learn about things recently for which our training as poets did not prepare us: the way language like “liquidated damages” doesn’t refer to the way you, our darling daughter, make waves over the heads of your duckies in our apartment tub, splashing the floor tiles soaked but also drenching the air in laughter.

We’ve had to learn the slight way “inspection” and “appraisal” catch the light differently, though each time that light is glinting off of the nickels your parents have barely been able to scrape together in the first place to give you your first place.

We know what it means now when a seller doesn’t want “possession” to be “date of closing,” and it’s a bit like being possessed by a demon who keeps closing the door to an internal bank vault we can smell the crisp whiff of money from, only to be handed a bouquet of contracts that keep wilting.

In other words, Lily June, the way contracts use language is a mathematical logic entirely, and it feels a bit like the real estate agent and the lender are a two-headed Minotaur waiting at the center of the maze, solving the Rubik’s cube with their horns and hooves faster than you could even toss one up and catch it again in your palms.

In other words, there’s a lot your dad and I aren’t catching.

We’re trying, today, to put in an offer again after we dotted our i’s and crossed our t’s last week all wrong. This is what it is to buy a house in poverty. Suffice it to say, we wanted for you limitless windows and instead, we’ve met with a number of walls.

I hate that it’s been this long since I’ve written to you or to anyone: There is much to say about words as simple as pie and as complicated as lymphadenopathy.

But instead, I have only an offering for you as basic as an American haiku. The rules are taught to most grade schoolers: To write a haiku, you just need three lines counted by the syllables five-seven-five. (Nevermind that the Japanese language, from which the form comes, doesn’t have this concept of syllabics. Americans, more than any other, covet the word “ownership.”)

If I sound bitter about the small poem, I don’t mean to be: One culture’s somber reflection on the changing nature of nature is another’s reflection on the changing nature of change. So be it.

For what it’s worth, Kat of like mercury colliding… writes awesome Word of the Day Haiku, so credit where credit’s due: this is an homage to her incredible idea. In fact, it’s because of her that I subscribed to Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, though I have no one but my own crazy brain to blame each time I read those words as a portent for our house-hunt.

(I’ll admit that when “ramshackle” came up the same day we were going to make an offer on a different home, I was more than a little shaken.)

This little high-coo, Lily, is how house-hunting makes your mother’s head hurt, brought to you by the word…


How “pull to pieces”
now means “rumple” my grays plucked
from “disheveled” sheets

And because one offering to the Gods of Wet Chicken Panic is never enough while your mother awaits her agent sending your dad and I a response to the second home offer we’ll make, here, too, is the song of the blues we’ve been singing since February, whenever we’ve set foot into a strangers’ home and tried to envision it as our own.

Lily, I will return to more words to you when the home in my mind, like the homespun house from Kansas dropped down into Oz, quits rotating like a wood-siding dream caught in a storm-glass blender.

Until then, here it is again, for good measure:


Picture Credits:


19 thoughts on “High Coo–In Which Your Poet Parents Get Caught in Red Tape

  1. Allie P. says:

    Sigh… you have my utmost sympathy. House hunting is definitely not the delightful game shows like House Hunters would lead you to believe. My fingers still remember the ache of signing all those documents only to have it nearly all go sideways when an inspector decided to make a bigger issue out of the house’s flaw than it deserved. Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. shelie27 says:

    I searched high and low for two years, maybe more. I got some years on ya, age wise by the way. My husband is a better person then Iam, when it comes to being grateful for what we have. All I ever wanted was a house for my family. I got pissed when things didn’t work out in my favor. It was stressing me out. I didn’t like feeling that way. I also thought to myself. If this house is sucking the life out of me, before I get it, maybe it’s a sign… I stopped fighting so hard and just stayed where I was. I had been there a bit, a little more time wouldn’t hurt nothing. In the end, something better and cheaper came along. The people moved out like three days after they accepted our offer. It flowed much nicer. I been thinking of you, happy hunting, A!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. joyroses13 says:

    OH I feel your pain! My daughter wants us to move so bad, just cause of the joy of having a new house. I tell her you don’t understand what ALL Moving entails!!! And been there, done that and not doing it again unless Absolutely a must!! Wishing you the best!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dearlilyjune says:

      Never ever ever. I have been SO OVERWHELMED, I can’t even tell you! Between taking care of Lucy, a 2000+ page report my boss had me produce at work, house-hunting, issues with my family, and a death, I’m mostly just drowning. But I promise, once I get my head above water, I’ll be back to bugging you & Bits & everybody I love around here. πŸ™‚ Please be patient with me!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Patricia says:

        I apologize! Your life is not just about me. The reason I asked is because I wrote you that stuff about your dad and then the silence was deafening. I hate my paranoia. You ARE dealing with a lot of stress. You know, when I am overwhelmed, I have to stop and take one thing at a time. That means not letting your mind wander to everything else you need to do. Sometimes I literally have to take one minute at a time or my anxiety will destroy everything in my path. We too are house hunting, just in case. But I won’t bore you with that at this time. I know that I have been absent for most of this month as well. I love and miss you and besides that I am nosy.πŸ™„ Give Lily a kiss for me 😘and Ryan a hugπŸ€—. Be well my friend.😍

        Liked by 1 person

      2. dearlilyjune says:

        No need to apologize. I’ve felt bad–messages and emails and comments have piled up on me, but I’ve been struggling so much lately that I’ve been falling into the bad habit of isolating. I tend to reach out less when I need others more, but because I’m not able to give very much of myself right now, I don’t feel like I can ask for much.

        Suffice it to say that I’m so sorry for the deafening silence, especially because your advice and perspectives are always so sound and helpful.

        I hope your house hunt goes better than ours. We’ve finally settled on a small two bedroom home where we’re going to make the family room into a bedroom (even though it has no closets)! It’s OLD (1930’s), has wood siding and a possibly leaky basement, but it’s in our price range in a safe area and would have a good-sized room for Lily. It’s the best we can do right now, though I hope she’s never ashamed to call it home (assuming the seller even accepts our offer! They have until 9pm tonight, and so far, no word.)

        We’re concerned because the seller is asking more for the home than we know the appraisal will show it’s worth, and if our lender backs out, we’ll have to live in a one-bedroom apartment for an entire year again!


        Liked by 1 person

      3. Patricia says:

        No apologies necessary! I just wanted to make sure I didn’t owe you an amends.

        O.K. so if the appraisal comes in low, the owner will pretty much have to negotiate the price or he will never sell it. What you bought is a fixer upper and it doesn’t have to be done all at one time. It can be a fun project. Please don’t stress over what Lily will say or think. She is a baby and by the time she gets old enough to care, you will have fixed it up or be in a one-step upper. Alyssa, people buy old houses all the time and renovate. I’m sure it has character which will make it more fun. You and Ryan will have done it together like when you picked out your dishes together. Don’t give up!

        We are basically kicking tires right now. I found myself getting depressed yesterday while we were looking from the outside only. I think it was probably lack of sleep and food because we are always looking. I have had to learn not to get attached to something I like because Danny shops and shops. I have experienced that with cars. I didn’t want to look unless we were going to buy.

        We just had a gaggle of real estate agents touring the house. It is depressing because I’m hoping the house won’t sell fast but the owner came down again on the price. I don’t want to move again but will do what I have to do. We’ve considered buying it but financially aren’t ready. This place is a dream. We knew that we were taking a chance but didn’t count on the owner pushing to sell. I am sitting at the patio table on the back deck looking out at the river flowing by. We have worked our asses off and I am ready for a break.

        I have had a tendency to isolate when something was going on with me because I was ashamed for anyone to know things weren’t going well. I hope to be getting out of it.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. dearlilyjune says:

        I wish it were the case, Patricia, that I could see us ever having the money to fix up a fixer-upper. The truth is, I don’t even have the money to fix the painful cavities in my own mouth, let alone a roof or a floor. 😦

        In the meantime, the offer we made today was counteroffered at higher than we’re willing to go for that particular home (it’s a 2 bedroom they’re pretending is a 3 by counting a family room with no door or closet!)

        So back to square one. It’s likely we’ll be in a one-bedroom apartment for an entire other year. I want to burst into tears, but I’m at work.

        At least, while you wait for the right house, you get to live in Paradise. I know, though, that that will make it harder to leave. The grass is always greener!

        I hope you and Danny find what you’re looking for. You’re such good, loving people. You deserve the moon!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Patricia says:

        Check into a month to month lease. It just wasn’t the house for ya’ll.

        You don’t know what will happen in the future so try not to think negatively. I know what I am saying because I am that negative person but I’m trying to do better. If you only knew how wonderful you really are. I know it is hard to see what someone else has and wish you could have it. But I have learned to make the most of what I have. Get your tooth fixed or it will end up costing you big time in the end. Whether you want to or not, you can get financing for it. I have had to because I had no choice. We are paying for two loans for my teeth because the insurance company wouldn’t pay for my crowns since I grind my teeth. Stupid huh? And we have an upgraded dental policy. It just added to our debt. The dentist wrote off a part of the bill because that was at the time when Danny had to stop working and I became a charity case. You never know what kind of problems others have so hold your head high. You are my hero in all that you have accomplished. Smile that beautiful smile!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Bun Karyudo says:

    I sometimes have a look at Merriam Webster’s Word of the Day, although I don’t subscribe and I’ve certainly never tried to write haiku using them. I’d probably have managed with “ramshackle” (one of the many words I’ve used to describe my apartment over the years), but the other day they had “gesellschaft” — one I’d never even remotely heard of before. I wouldn’t have liked to try to get poetic with that word. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. orchidblueblog says:

    I’m sending you positive vibes for everything. Remember it’s completely acceptable to take a drive away from everyone and everything for just a moment and cry or scream. Good luck with everything. You deserve the best. 😘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dearlilyjune says:

      I so hope you’re right, Linda. We’re on house hunting hold until closer to April of next year, so I’ll hold you to your prediction then!

      In the meantime, I hope you’re well. Your blog has been sadly silent lately. 😦


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