It begins. It ends.
The story goes on.
Footsteps on the ceiling,
toilet flush, water rinse,
softer not-fast feet
take time now that the rush
there’s room for words and maybe
(he never laughs, but they do).
A crunch. Munchy-crunchy. Fun.
He must have it — women in
a steady stream says stud, right?
They spend the night once or twice,
seem sated, smile in the elevator next-day.
He must have it. Yes.
But the story has another side,
an aside, something in the margin:
the crashing lasts but a paragraph,
sometimes two if the writer is good,
mark the start and mark the finish
and then the toilet and the water
and the softer feet
another paragraph another night
another woman smashing the headboard
into sentences that end
measuring exposition and completion
as that steady stream
is suddenly understood.
(from I Can See You — A Collection of Neighbors)
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The dog that looked like a bear,
big and ruffled and angry like
hibernation was not going well
jumped against the wall of the hall
tore away ravenous down the way
pulling a too-small child, dragging that
child towards the elevator
but it couldn’t wait and squatted
and pissed a lake when the
elevator doors opened so it ran
ran ran for the doors as the child
fell through the urine and shrieked
more angry than sad, and let
go of the leash and the dog/
bear jumped on Anush the
woman in the elevator who lived
with the dog and the girl and then
she screamed at the dog and the
girl covered in yellow urine, all
Armenian words now fighting in the
hallway so even the dog came slinking
back and the door of their apartment
opened and a fat fat man in black
velour pants and a chain around his
neck bellowed, walked out into the center,
bellowed some more until Anush
screamed again, this time at him,
the contempt! Oh wow the contempt!
She snarled and screamed and
two more children wandered dumbstruck
out of the door, no shoes on their feet,
shorts and t-shirts that didn’t look
real real clean, one eating cereal
out of the box until Anush screamed
at them and they ran with the unine-covered
girl into the apartment and the dog started to
quiver back on its hind legs behind the man,
started to strain and soon there was poop poop
on the floor but the man didn’t see it
and stepped backwards and stepped
right into the poop and swore:
Anush backed up, he moved forward
to kill her and this is the way it
went until an even older woman
like grandmother-old came limping out of
the apartment and said something kind or
that sounded kind because the man stopped
in his shitty tracks and Anush took a
breath and even the dog seemed better.
The old grandmother held out her arm and
her son came to her and gave her his hand
and called another name and another child,
a new one, came out of the apartment and
took the dog to the elevator and down and
they all walked inside the apartment and
closed the door and there was still piss
and shit on the floor but, finally, quiet.
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There’s an elk living upstairs.
I can tell by the lumbering.
crash against the straining floor,
I’m sure his thighs —
they ripple with fat-stores
as he smashes from room to room,
not sure why he’s there.
when he makes love,
grunts around each night
mounts the elk-lette,
even his strange body
fades into power
and little elks.
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