In Boston, one goes upstairs to bed;
In Los Angeles, downstairs;
House on a slope, carport overhead,
The ledge of bedrock for a crown wears
Layers of gravel instead of a spread.
Yes, sheetrock for a counterpane;
In the porte cochere, dismount and remain;
Down from the horsepower, encounter pain,
And where you step, no struts intervene.
Troublesome priests are nowhere to be seen;
Be it tier, be it bier, no one’s here to disagree;
But build the bedroom nearer-my-God-to-thee,
Not up by the chimney pots, but down in the ravine.
NOTES for Students of English
Steep Lot – A play on two meanings of “lot”: 1) a parcel of land; and 2) fate.
Porte Cochere – (Pronounced port-ko-SHARE) A covered entrance for cars, originally for horse-drawn carriages; from French for “coach door.”
Strut – A play on two meanings of “strut”: 1) A structural brace; and 2) swaggering.
Troublesome priests – Possibly an allusion to a well-known quote attributed to the 12th century British king, Henry II, about Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury: “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” “Troublesome” is often replaced in the quote by “meddlesome” or “turbulent.”
Nearer-my-God-to-thee – An allusion to the 19th century Christian hymn “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” by Sarah Flower Adams.