Neighbours please return to sender

Neighbours please return to sender


Sometimes living in an apartment block and fitting in with neighbours is not easy. My late Mother used to say that sometimes you have to “go along to get along with people”. We all try to be good neighbours. Living in harmony with others is the idyll, but sometimes others have a different idea of domestic harmony. They prefer domestic life, with all its heated exchanges and slamming doors in the heat of summer.

NeighboursThis poem is written in memory of one of life’s obnoxious neighbours who trashed the basement car park with his two old European klunkers spilling purple-grey fumes as he worked on them in his car spaces after a day of construction building. It was a terrible place to leave our own car and to walk to the basement lift. The man’s pregnant wife sat upstairs in her dressing gown watching TV with her three year old spoilt brat-girl. We occasionally viewed her strolling the garden with her mobile phone and the TV blaring. She punctured the neighbourhood civility occasionally by letting her Daughter run out on the astro-turf to scream her lungs out. After a few hours of machinery-hacking, the Father would join the Daughter in the garden and yell his lungs out too.  I think the offsite landlady should know we owe her no thanks.

Neighbours: Return to Sender

The poet sat on the balcony of her flat trying to write,

The prose for those whose love has been lost in a fight,

The neighbours in the flats nearby began arguing,

And held forth with screams and yells and doors banging,

Determined to make their own mark at Christmas,

With their shouts and garbage bin lids a’clanging.


Yet another example of family members running amock,

Amidst their ancient Euro cars, and white flat-bed trucks,

Which makes a poet wonder why politicians bother because,

To utter the words of social harmony in the Land of Oz,

When families show up with such disunity and take one aback,

It leaves one wondering whether the political rhetoric is just that,

Designed to create disharmony amongst those already installed within flats.


How can we be tolerant, thoughtful and patient,

When those we are told to welcome are intolerant,

Of their own kind, of their own kith and their kin,

And leave no doubt amongst the harm and the din,

That their lives are determined to cause havoc and spoil,

All the good work we have done for others all the while …

We are good Aussies, good neighbours and care for others,

We are good parents, good Australian Fathers and Mothers.


It makes no sense to listen to rhetoric in the main,

When reality falls far short, we try, try and try again,

To be good citizens and love thy neighbour,

When the neighbours fights spill to gardens,

Designed to heal, rest and recover,

From harsh words said in anger and spilt by others.


Is there no escape from the voices of neighbours,

Whose idea of family unity is bickering and fights,

And slinging abuse to neighbours who rightly complain,

Of the din and the noise and the shouts yet again.


That fence we build is BIG in my mind,

Designed to keep out the harm of others I find,

They walk the garden at 7am in dressing gown and slippers,

Yelling to others on their mobile phone with their shaving clippers.


“The neighbours can hear you” I shout in frustration,

And then the abuse of the poet neighbour begins again,

From a neighbor with no boundaries, no sense or decorum,

Who believes tolerance begins with others adjusting,

Their headsets to drown out his words of maladjusting,

To a climate and country not of his liking,

But exposed to his mining of soil, minerals and financial fracking.


There are no Brownie points, Girl Guide badges or free trips,

To parks, playgrounds and swings or lucky dips,

In being nice to a neighbour determined to be,

The living end of every garden and young tree,

That he treads on in anger, resentment and glee,

Determined to spoil our harmony on a Holy Day when we want to be free.


Happily, the Airforce fly over at 12.45 stopped his tracks,

And for that we are thankful for his quick back track,

He clearly thought he was now under attack,

And retreated to take his lunch, a burger from Big Mac.


He ran from the garden, mobile phone in hand,

And repaired to the sun bed minus the sand,

Continuing his phone report from the day bed,

Under the awning with his handful of meds,

With medications to consume all day long,

We wondered though, Will he stay living here for long?


One in three tenant leases end in legal harmony,

After a year or two of growing disharmony,

We bear no grudge to the wife of this man,

But hope she will take matters in hand,

And take him with all his mechanical devices,

To another place with less garden and IT devices.


Happy we will be to see his back end,

As he carts off his two old cars around the bend,

To another location, destination Unknown,

Better that he leaves, than becomes too well known,

To neighbours who would like to disown,

A man who, diplomatically, gives nothing more,

Than to arrive ceremoniously on Australia’s shore,

And demands his rights this way and that,

And then leaves with bags full of milk, honey and his yakety-yak*


ANZAC Day flowers in the hotel dawn service

Poem text copyright Fiona Rothchilds 2018
Photographs copyright Fiona Rothchilds 2018.

“I ain’t going to rock and roll anymore,
“Yakety-yak, Don’t talk back”.
Lyrics for the 1958 song “Yakety-yak“ can be found at

Comments are closed.

Sign in
Forgot password?
Sign up

(*) Required fields

I agree with OptimaSales Terms & Privacy Policy