Tag Archives: Noise


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They’ve been building a monstrous three-story house across the street for months, the noise level increasing each day, but yesterday, my neighbor down below also started power-washing his house. They’ve continued today, and in addition, my neighbors on the other side have had gardeners operating unbelievably LOUD leaf blowers and chain saws.  It really is unbearable.  Only just now did all the men stop at once for their lunch break, enabling me to plan my revenge while writing today’s poem. Perfectly timed, just as I am typing this last line of my introduction, the power washers have started up again.


Brain jarring poundings and drillings and sputterings
give rise to my angry cantankerous mutterings.
Construction on one side, leaf blowers over there.
High pressure power washers shatter the air.
From every direction, I’m besieged by noise.
It’s destroying my brainpower, shredding my poise.
No brilliant solution tops up my mind.
Sabotage is illegal and murder unkind.
I’ve turned up the music, closed windows and doors,
but still I can hear their mechanical roars
and grindings and crashes and rumblings and banging.
I contemplate suicide. Pills, gun or hanging?
Why aren’t my neighbors disturbed by the clamors
of chainsaws, cement mixers, trucks and jackhammers?
After all, it’s their property where men are working.
Yet none of my neighbors seem to be lurking.
They’ve probably all gone away for the day—
finding a quieter place they can stay.
They’ll return in the evening when noises decrease
hungry for dinner and a little peace—
and that’s when I’ll open each window and door,
turn my music amps up and even the score!!!!!


Prompt words today are hungry, cantankerous, brilliant and tops.Here are the links:

Mexican Alarm Clocks


For sixteen years, I’ve been watching Canadian and American expats flood into Mexico and most, no matter how charmed they might be with Mexico, have the same main complaint—the profusion of VERY LOUD sky rockets that are set off by the thousands during festivals, beginning at the very early hour (by gringo standards) of 6 A.M.

I have a piece myself, written on my first morning in Mexico 22 years ago when my husband and I awoke to what we were sure must be the cannon fire of a revolution in Oaxaca.  Alarmed, we sat cowering in our room that thankfully opened onto an inside courtyard until the artillery ceased and the city seemed to awaken to a normal day.  Familiar sounds of cars, donkeys, water vendors, gas vendors, vegetable vendors and motorcycles filled the morning air and we ventured out.  Knowing no Spanish at the time, there was no one to ask about the early morning sounds of battle until we met another gringo couple in the Zocalo and asked if they knew what the early morning artillery fire had been about.  They were polite and didn’t laugh too loud as they explained the Mexican fondness for cohetes (skyrockets) and their purpose.

After moving to Mexico a few years later, I became very well acquainted with their presence not only during holy festivals but also fiestas and celebrations of all sorts: weddings, birthdays, mother’s day, quinceañeras, christenings. After 16 years of living in this country of vivid colors, tastes  and smells,  noise seems to be as important as any other sensory excess while celebrating and living life. This poem, discovered in the bowels of my computer and written 20 years ago or more, now seems the norm:

San Miguel Morning

The sounds of rooting cats
like infanticide
tuba music
in 4/4 time.
Donkey brays.
6:29 in the morning.

All’s right with the world.

If you are curious about just why all these skyrockets are necessary and why the complaints of gringo invaders will always fall on deaf ears, read this excellent article on cohetes by Craig Dietz.

The prompt today was noise.


It is 3:24 A.M.  For the past hour, some ASSHOLE on a motorcycle with NO MUFFLER has been ROARING back and forth in front of my house going at least 60 miles an hour.  He seems to be making a U turn around the plaza and roaring back again.  This has happened at least 6 times, which makes 12 passes past my bedroom window which is about 5 feet from the street.  I have an urge to go grab the garbage cans everyone has put out on the curb to make a barricade across the street.  What idiot does this on a main street running through a village where everyone is sleeping?

In 2.5 hours, the tortilla shop across the street will start up its tortilla-making machine with its round of loud rhythmic SQUEAKS that will render sleep impossible.  Forty-five minutes later, the first huge cement trucks will make their inital journeys past my window to begin their continual all-day trips back and forth to Tamarindo, where the Four Seasons is building a huge resort hotel. Why they go out of their way to come through town rather than using the dirt road that leads directly to the resort from the highway, I don’t know.  Possibly it is just to allow them to chew up the new pavers in town…or for the fun of coating all the parked cars along the way with a 1/4 inch thick coat of dust.

In four and a half hours, the usual hum of cars will begin, along with the gas truck singsonging “Zeta, Zeta, Zeta Gass.” or “Ghhhhaaaaaasssssssss,” depending on which company it is.  The water truck will make its distinctive announcement, the knife-sharpener will pedal by sounding his thin piping whistle, vegetable vendors will announce their menu of fresh fruits and veggies via loudspeaker, cars will make passes through town announcing events, and the plastic vendors, bulk soap vendors, scrap metal collectors and general traffic will begin its ritual parade past my window. No chance for motorcycle morons to pass at anything but a fairly normal speed, which detracts from their pure pleasure of speed combined with DEAFENiNG  NOISE!

Ironically, on the other side of my rental is just the pounding of the night surf, relaxing and  lulling.  Oh, that they hadn’t converted the garage that opens directly onto the street into the only bedroom on the ground floor of this beach rental that was years ago split into two rentals…upstairs and down…one of the three bedrooms upstairs converted into a kitchen/dining room/sitting room, while a bedroom was provided for the downstairs rental by the method just described of converting the streetside garage into the only bedroom.  Perhaps the time has come for me to begin sleeping in the hammock on the porch adjoining the beach.

The first month after I moved to Mexico sixteen years ago, I wrote a piece entitled, “In Mexico, There Is Always Music.” It talked about the constant bird calls, mule brays, cattle lowings, dogs barking, fireworks, church bells, parties, fiestas, cocks crowing, generators, air brakes on the highway far below, frogs, cicadas, insects, hummingbird whirrs, rhythms of fully-laden donkeys on cobblestones or shod horses moving at a faster pace past my house in San Juan Cosala.

But here in La Manzanilla, those sounds are augmented and added to by the even more irritating sounds of busy village life. Yes, it is paradise, but here on the road side of my idyllic beach bungalow,   IT CAN BE DAMN HARD TO GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP!!!!

                                                                  Ahh.  Much nicer.

Full Volume

(Click on first photo to enlarge all.)


Full Volume

I hear my neighbor’s fighting cocks crow into the night,
expressing their readiness for tomorrow’s fight.
There are always noises cutting through the dark.
I hear the donkey’s braying and the dog’s loud bark.

Some neighborhood weekend party goes on ’til four or five,
expressing at great volume that they’re glad to be alive.
The singing and the music and the fireworks exploding
that sometimes make me feel as though my head may be imploding.

The church bells in the village every quarter hour declaring,
trucks advancing street by street, loudspeakers rudely blaring.
One truck selling vegetables, another selling gas,
shouting out their wares to everyone they pass.

Others selling water or cooking oil or soap,
scrub brushes or sponges, plastic buckets or rope—
Motorcycles without mufflers roaring down the street
revving up their motors for every friend they meet.

Bandas in the plaza play at a decibel
that I swear could raise the bats straight up out of Hell.
Mexico isn’t subtle. It’s bright and bold and proud.
That’s why for everything in Mexico, the volume’s turned up LOUD!!!!



The prompt word was volume.

No Perfection in the Universe

If my bedroom were to open onto the beach side of my rental, this would be my early morning scene:

(Click on first picture, then on arrows to enlarge photos and view. When you’ve viewed all four pictures, click on X on upper left of your screen to return to my posting)

The only sounds I would hear? Gulls, the wash of waves on the shore, Bobino’s mute plea to be fed. But, in fact, my bedroom window which must be kept open for circulation, faces onto the street and at 8 o’clock, my reality is this:

No Perfection in the Universe

After only four hours’ sleep,
my slumber should be sound and deep;
but very early in the day,
mufflers seem to be passé.

My window opens to the street
to try to beat the daily heat,
so the sounds of ATV’s
enter freely with the breeze.

When motorcycles rev and roar
just outside my bedroom door
and trucks come rumbling two by two––
there is nothing I can do

but grab my computer and write my blog
when I should be sleeping like a log.
It’s true I might be way less surly
if I got to bed more early,

but you see it’s not to be
for when the bars all close at three
the motorcycles are just as loud
their drivers young and motor-proud.

They shout and roar and spin their wheels.
Their music beats and thumps and peals
as they do one pass or more
right outside my bedroom door.

Outside the other side of my rental
all the sounds are elemental.
The surf’s loud roar is more relaxing,
but here the engine roars are taxing!

So when you picture my vacation,
just think of the daily ration
of engine angst that I confess
and perhaps you’ll envy less.

The parade of mufflerless motorcycles, cars and revving trucks begins at eight a.m.  Here is one minute of traffic passing in front of my house.  The blue wall with the open door and window is mine.

(Click on first picture, then on arrows to enlarge photos and view.When you’ve viewed all 11 pictures, click on X on upper left of your screen to return to my posting.)


Work Ethic / Canción de México: Two Poems

The Prompt: Gut Feeling—When’s the last time you followed your instinct despite not being sure it was the right thing to do? Did it end up being the right call?

Work Ethic

There’s something stirring in me. I do not know its name.
It whispered to go seawards, so that is why I came.
I do not know the object, though once I thought I did.
Once here the book I thought I’d write left my mind and hid.

I find that I am drifting like a seabird on the swell;
and so far that is fine with me, in fact I like it well.
Instead, I write these ditties that I finish every day,
forsaking what I think I should to just write what I may.

No need for all the boring things: research, footnotes, citing.
Whatever is in front of me is what I end up writing.
Some might say that it’s responsibility I’m shirking,
but I say that I’ve simply learned to go with what is working.

Canción de México
(Song of Mexico)

This small café sits on the square, or rather the rectangle.
The gas trucks pass by, blaring “Gaaaaas,” their grounding chains a-jangle.
Trucks and cycles lacking mufflers roar by every minute,
bass blaring from each car window without much music in it.

The guinea fowl make such a ruckus that they sound insane,
but to complain about the noise in Mexico’s inane.
The daily garbage trucks, the water truck and all the rest
all live by the assurance that what’s loudest is the best.

I drink my coffee, eat my muffin, try to grin and bear it;
but when she sets a napkin down, I grab at it and tear it.
And even though one part of me says that I shouldn’t dare it,
I use a bit to wipe my lips. The other part? I wear it!

I stuff a wad in either ear, and though I still hear all,
I go by the illusion that I hear it from afar.
Sometimes I feel the threat of age, so quickly it is nearing;
but if I lose one faculty, dear God, please make it hearing!