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Read by Susan Jarvis Bryant

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In This House…

In this house…
We value science so much we accept
that male and female chromosomes exist
and gender is not merely a suggestion.

In this house…
We know that love is love. We also think
that love should be both dignified and sacred
And not a prop for ideology.

In this house…
We will not rewrite history to soothe
our fragile egos. We acknowledge wrongs
but never hold the innocent to blame.

In this house…
We think that all lives matter—race and sex,
religion, creed and ancestry are not
a basis for rejection or for favor.

In this house…
We value Western culture and believe
the Sistine Chapel ceiling warrants more
respect than angry, unschooled street graffiti.

In this house…
We value excellence and therefore won’t
reward incompetence as an achievement
so slackers can feel good about themselves.

In this house…
We weigh a person’s character and actions.
Morality means actions people take
and not the smug, subjective things they think.

In this house…
We rail against all forms of lawless anarchy,
condemning those who burn and break and smash
while claiming law enforcement should be banned.

In this house…
We value patriotic sentiment.
The land that guards our lives and sacred rights
has flaws but still commands our deep respect.

In this house…
We value honest justice, life and faith.
We face reality and do not grouse.
If all that’s clear, then welcome to our house!

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Brian Yapko is a lawyer who also writes poetry. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


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29 Responses

  1. Mike Bryant

    Brian, when I see those signs I cringe. They are a master class in propaganda… a claim to godliness for the godless, unless, your god is the WEF.
    Your answer is necessary and brilliant.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Mike, I very much appreciate your comment and your support! Yes, they make me cringe too. When a nearby neighbor put one of these up I just had to do something.

      Reply
  2. Andre Le Mont Wilson

    Brian, this is one of the most powerful and inclusive poems I have read on this site. Your language is potent and relevant. I love the anaphoric rhythm of your repetition of “In this house . . .” Thank you for daring and for sharing.

    Reply
  3. Allegra Silberstein

    The poster speaks in general terms and your poem speaks from your perspective and well done. I respect both.

    Reply
  4. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    What a beautiful house – a fair house of decorum and respect. There is no hidden agenda and no serpent wriggling between the stanzas. This is an admirably considered and perfectly executed poetic response to the nefarious and contentious original. Brian, I applaud you for this much-needed reaction to ideologies that are killing the Western world. Your words are a bright beacon of hope on the dark horizon of a wicked world. Thank you very much!

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Susan, thank you. I am deeply touched both by your generous comment and by your unexpected and heartfelt reading of my poem! That “In This House…” inspired you so is incredibly satisfying to me as a poet and as someone who shares so many values with you.

      Reply
  5. Cynthia Erlandson

    Absolutely brilliant! I despise those “virtue” signaling signs. Behind them, as Susan says, is the Serpent.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      So true, Cynthia, so true. Thank you very much for your kind comment!

      Reply
  6. Joseph S. Salemi

    The “In This House” signs are the epitome of smug, virtue-signalling pretentiousness, marking the place as the residence of posturing elitists and moralistic drama-queens. We don’t have many of these signs here in New York, for the very good reason that this is still a tough-talking and intelligently cynical city, where a sign of that sort would be an immediate target of laughter and contempt.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      You have the virtue-signalers pegged very accurately, Joseph. I can’t see one of these signs without getting a little sick to my stomach. I’m glad New York is still safe for reasonable thought. It must be one of the few places left.

      Reply
  7. Margaret Coats

    All such signs are hate signs. The invisible (black-on-black) final line is “Hate Lives Here.” In California, we don’t see the big seven-line signs because people tend to litter their property with smaller ones tailored to personal priorities; these come in many designs with brash slogans and perplexing jargon. To express universal hate without words, we have the alternative national flag of multiple stripes and diagonals in the dullest of colors. Opposing signs invite vandalism, although it seems thus far safe to fly the Stars and Stripes.

    Brian, the great virtue of your poem is to display charitable clarity instead of hate masked with insidious words. You have spoken truth with impeccable artistry, addressing it to anyone capable of thought rather than drive-by reactive hot flashes. When I saw the picture for this post, I expected sharp satire, but you offer a calm, articulate masterpiece.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Margaret, thank you so much for this exceptionally generous comment! I fully agree that the subtext of these signs is “Hate Lives Here.” As for my “charitable clarity” I actually had to reign in some scathing conceits, put on my lawyer hat, step back and speak with restraint to the jury. I’m glad that it appears to have worked!

      Reply
  8. Evan Mantyk

    Last year, I saw quite a few of these signs in Scarsdale (Westchester, New York), one of the richest neighborhoods in the country. Thank you, Brian, for offering a sane alternative.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you, Evan! And thank you for publishing this poem. I knew it was a bit atypical in form and substance so I’m glad that it has met a need — or touched a nerve — for so many. And thank you for posting Susan’s wonderful reading!

      Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Evan, you saw all those signs in Westchester because affluent white persons don’t think they have a dog in this fight, and so they can afford to make politically fashionable poses without any consequences. It’s just “keeping up with the Joneses.”

      I’ve seen the exact same thing in wealthy parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut. The higher you move up socially and financially in America, the more “leftist” you are expected to become.

      Reply
  9. Paul Freeman

    I’ll stick to my ‘Welcome’ mat which all the neighbourhood cats use for sharpening their claws.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      I hear you! I’d be happy if no one felt the need to post signs. It’s a bit narcissistic to assume that all the neighbors want to know what one thinks. Thanks for commenting, Paul.

      Reply
  10. Joshua C. Frank

    Ugh, I used to see that awful sign all the time when I lived in CA. All those things are true, strictly speaking (example: of course love is love, what else would it be?), but liberals have twisted the meanings of each word so thoroughly that they mean completely opposite things from what we would mean if we said them.

    The blank verse is an interesting angle…

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, Joshua. “Ugh” just about says it! I live in New Mexico but previously lived in Oregon and California. I’ve seen ’em all over.

      Reply
  11. Sally Cook

    Thanks, very much, Brian.

    Here’s another take on it.

    In That Other House

    Shallow, false, wrongly directed,
    Callow, weak, and now subjected
    Followlng the wrong-elected,
    Wallowing in spume, infected.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Sally, this is great! “That Other House” indeed! And the rhymes at both the beginnings and ends of the lines are very clever.

      Reply
  12. Stuti

    Such an amazing reply to that house sign! Agree with Andre on how powerfully inclusive this piece is

    Reply

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