Like a Good Neighbor



Like a good neighbor, Barney was there.
Kept his mouth shut, didn’t dare interfere.

Like a good neighbor, Barney stood by,
covered his ears when he heard Kari cry.

Like a good neighbor, Barney ignored
signs of abuse from the couple next door.

Like a good neighbor, when the coroner came,
he told the cops nothing, had no one to blame.

When night came upon him, no sleep to be had,
Just like his neighbor, Barney went mad.


Written for Brian Miller’s prompt over at dVerse Poetics where the challenge is to write something based on a slogan. I chose State Farm Insurance’s jingle: “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” That’s how the rather sing-songy couplets happened. Thankfully, this is fictional.

28 thoughts on “Like a Good Neighbor

  1. Sad, sad write–all the while I was reading it, I head that cheery little ditty play in the bacground


  2. Goose bumps! Starts so charming, ends so disarming…


  3. bostonpoetry says:

    In a really strange way this reminded me of HP Lovecraft. The protagonist in his stories always goes mad with knowledge of the horror that’s just on the other side. His conscience will weigh heavily for a long, long time. This was one of the best from this prompt… kudos!


  4. rmp says:

    wonderfully done! it’s sad to think someone would just stand by and do nothing. also…impressive how you turned this slogan upside down.


  5. Misky says:

    Whoa. That is one amazing poem with a brilliant rhythm and message. Well done, Victoria.


  6. ManicDdaily says:

    This has a real Richard Corey aspect to it – and yet it also has a very mordant bite re our commercial culture. k.


  7. kaykuala says:

    A common occurrence and one never know how frequent this happens in real life. Glad it’s fictional! Nicely Victoria!



  8. Truedessa says:

    Wow, this is sad but true as so many don’t want to get involved until it is too late. I wonder how Barney feels inside.


  9. Wow, sad but so often true. I immediately got the State Farm reference which gave this somber piece an upbeat feel.


  10. C.J. Black says:

    Like a good neighbour, always on the look out
    Like a good neighbour their kindness never is in doubt.

    Like a good neighbour always there to lend a helping hand
    Like a good neighbour always there to take a stand.

    Like a good neighbour when there is a real need
    Like a good neighbour they will always do the good deed.

    Like the good neighbour when you need a friend
    Like the good neighbour they will never buck the trend.

    You will never miss them until they are no longer there
    Then and only then you’ll be sorry you didn’t treat them fair.


  11. hypercryptical says:

    Wrong side of the pond to know of the slogan Victoria – so Googled.
    Your words are sad and indeed thought provoking. So sad that many of us close our minds – don’t want to become ‘involved’…
    Anna :o]


  12. hisfirefly says:

    amazing spin on a catchy slogan that intended to inspire trust and hope


  13. Laurie Kolp says:

    Wow. So powerful and really packs a punch, Victoria.


  14. howanxious says:

    That is sad and brilliant. Clever and the couplets are great.


  15. yikes ! I have a big mouth so, I’d be a whistle blower! Great write !


    • I’d have blown the whistle way before it went this far. As nurses, we are required to report any suspected abuse of the elderly or children. Even though I’m not longer nursing, it’s a part of me…protective instincts. The “good neighbor” idea is entirely tongue-in-cheek.


  16. Debi Swim says:

    Talicha is right, having the jingle running through my head did give lightness to this dark tale. Very nice.


  17. Glenn Buttkus says:

    Victoria, you naughty girl, you took a white-washed overused insurance slogan, and found the darkness lurking beneath it; brilliant take on the prompt; glad you remember some of the radio slogans too; started thinking I was the oldest fart at dVerse.


  18. Jueseppi B. says:

    Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat™.


  19. Grace says:

    How sad and terrible is this story Victoria ~ I can relate to the SF slogan, where do you draw the line in being a good neighbor ~


  20. brian miller says:

    geez….about as real as it gets eh? like a good neighbor he keeps his mouth shut and lets it go on…silence can be deadly…and so very sad…i dont want that kinda neighbor…just saying…

    state farm…smiles.


  21. Talicha J. says:

    very interesting take on that prompt with this slogan! it’s dark but the fact that I read it in song like the jungle have a false sense of lightness. Nice job with telling this story!


  22. What a story.. like a good neighbor could mean so much… poor Barney,


  23. Gabriella says:

    I didn’t know the slogan thanks for the explanation – but I liked your story!


  24. claudia says:

    oh heck victoria – that is a tough story – and no wonder he cannot sleep anymore with the knowing that things could’ve turned out different if he had acted differently


  25. Mary says:

    Wow, Victoria….that is a moving story. I am sure that this kind of thing happens more often than we know! Sigh.


  26. Susan Chast says:

    WOW. Many dings and darts here!


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