Paint not the porch while “walking” hound puppies.
Worry not how bad the porch looks.
Look to the future, a future without hound puppies, before painting the porch.
Paint not even the porch ceiling when hound puppies are on the premises.
Even if your husband has three new partners and he wants to welcome them
And, besides, his old friend Harry Poling is retiring;
Even if he has scheduled the caterers,
And his office has sent out two hundred and fifty invitations
To a garden party at your house,
Paint not the porch.
It looks like hell.
It is scratched and scared.
It hasn’t been painted in . . . what? . . . ten years?
Care not what party-goers will say when they arrive.
City dwellers most, they will want to look around before dinner.
You will say, “Sure . . . look around.”
And they will wander off.
Mind not that the porch—a big wrap-around porch—has been
Gouged by a hundred dog toenails;
That millions of leaves have blown there and sometimes
Stuck, leaving a stain, before you found time to sweep;
That it has been pissed upon by hound puppies, barfed and shat upon by the cat.
Mind not what people may think.
They may wander to the similarly gouged front porch.
Tell yourself: “nobody goes to the front door.”
Nobody goes to the front door,
So, paint neither the front porch floor, nor its ceiling.
Even though the ceilings of both porches are no longer sky blue,
(As folklore has it, a sky-blue porch ceiling keeps
Bees from building their nests in the corners)
Paint them not.
Even though both ceilings are now a dull grey from ten years of mildew.
Please, paint them not.
Let the party-goers wander onto the front porch.
Because here’s the truth: people don’t look up.
They don’t go to the front door and they don’t look up.
They may go to the main door, the one everybody uses to enter the house,
Except the dogs, who use the mud-room door and are responsible for this mess.
Guests may walk upon the “wrap-around” porch, look down and wonder,
“What the hell happened here?”
Nevertheless, paint it not.
Not while the hound puppies are here.
Not while they run here and there without cause, only effect.
Not while they chew on porch posts, floor boards, rockers and benches.
Call not the painter Jeff.
He will tell you it can be done; the job can be done in four days.
He will charge $20 an hour
(Whereas the other contractor, with a crew of eight, said he needed $35 an hour,
“Because labor ain’t cheap.”)
Think not of reasonable rates.
Even if Jeff says, “I’ll be there at 8 a.m.”
Say not: “O.K.”
Say: “Let’s give it a couple of weeks, just until these damn puppies are gone.”
Jeff is an easy going guy, he’ll understand, he’ll say, “No problem. I can start whenever.”
Ask him not, “are you sure you can have it done before the party?”
Even if he says, “yep,”
Paint not the porches, nor their ceilings.
Dream not of catastrophe the night before Jeff starts.
The puppies see Jeff.
He is on his knees.
“Here’s a fun guy down on his knees,” the puppies will say.
The puppies want to know “what is that thing in your hand?
A roller full of grey paint?
That looks like fun!”
Dream not of two puppies bounding toward him,
Exuberant, happy, lucky to find a guy down on his knees with a roller full of grey paint.
Dream not of two puppies, now grown to around forty pounds each, tackling poor Jeff,
Face down in his new paint job.
Care not what the people will say.
Think not what they will think.
Judge not what they will judge.
Have the party.
But, for God’s sake,
Don’t paint the porch!