I cleaned my house,
satisfied to leave it
locked tight and cold for a while,
but when I returned I found mice
had made themselves at home.
All the buried artifacts
I'd imagined undisturbed and waiting
had been skittered around,
pooped on, nested in, touched.
I wish the metaphor wasn't so Biblical.

Maybe because I'm a man
or just a frustrating person
I still see homemaking as a finite
to-do list: I washed the dishes
and now I'll never let them pile up again.
I apologized,
I read a few formative books,
and as soon as I drive these inspirational quotes
into my wall I can stop devoting
time and attention to this project.

I guess part of me imagines my life
as some finite number of hammer swings
from completion. Then finally
I'll take a seat, sip a beer, and behold my work
in all its overbuilt splendor.

Thump. That there's a solid roof.
Yup. Under this here roof
you'll sleep safe and dry
through the most torrential downpours
of my bitter disappointment
in you, as a person, generally.
Thump.
Doesn't that sound inspire confidence?

You better believe
when I check a box
it stays checked.
Talk about my feelings—check!
Depend on my loved ones—check!
Learn to adapt—check!
Love myself—check!
Stop treating people like projects—

So here I am like so many men,
wondering where I went wrong
this time, wondering what nail I can pound
extra hard right now to make sure
I never fall apart again.