The Loud House

by Rosalie DiPaola


Mom used to tell me

The secret to staying sane

Was learning to drown out

All the noise.


So, I did my best.


I tried to ignore

The washer and dryer quaking,

Growling like they will swallow any victim

Who gets too close.

The oven that’s been trying to tell someone

It’s been preheating for over an hour now,

Nagging people who aren’t even listening.

The incessant binging from the refrigerator

With its doors spread wide open,

Begging for help before the milk goes sour,

But nobody can hear in the loud house.


One dog attacks the front door,

Crying and biting because a bird flew by.

Another snores on my parents’ bedroom floor

Snuggled in mom’s most expensive blanket,

Unphased, unbothered, unyielding.

The last is poised facing the backyard,

Barking and snarling at the oh-so

Threatening blades of grass.

Even though nobody can hear in the loud house.


Mom’s hair dryer roars into the hallway,

Along with my brother’s gas,

My littlest sister’s gags as she brushes her teeth next to him

(His legs dangling helplessly from the toilet),

And the vacant running shower.

They’re all confined in the same bathroom,

And no one is left out because

The door is always left wide open.

Besides, nobody can hear in the loud house.


I haven’t seen the twins all day,

But we know they’re still home

Because the punches and kicks and slaps and hair-pulls

Echo through the air vents,

And something shattered on their bedroom floor

At some point in the last hour,

Rattling the kitchen lights below.

But that’s an issue for another day,

Because nobody can hear in the loud house.


Somewhere a T.V. plays Scarface on full blast,

As my dad tries to drown out all

The real chaos with staged chaos,

So for the hundredth time this year

Al Pacino howls and opens fire in our living room,

Sending shivers through the walls,

But the resounding shots of the AR-15 don’t bother anyone

Since nobody can hear in the loud house.


Not everyone could live here,

Overwhelmed by the smells,

Deafened by the noise,

Smothered by the brothers and sisters.


But when I close my eyes,

All the sounds blend together–

And the house begins to buzz.


I like to think that’s what love sounds like.

And everyone in the loud house can hear it.


back to University & College Poetry Prizes