Second Person Plural

A man lives in an old house converted to apartments.
There is still a servants’ staircase, but now it
leads to a blank wall. And the walls are paper,
the ceilings must be crepe paper: every night
the man hears his upstairs neighbor getting it
from somebody, hears her gasping, even hears
her bed squeaking. Midnight, 2 a.m., he gapes
at the ceiling, he almost expects to see
their fluids come suffusing down through
the crepe paper, enough to put out the cigarette
he’s smoking. How they go at it, …


the old woman
rocks that boy
just as she had
his father before him
rocks him while he’s crying
his arm round her neck
eyes clenched but
loose enough
to …

I Saw Death on the Third Street Promenade

wearing a creamcolor suit and

muttering at his blackberry and
eating a five-dollar widget of chocolate
with shades on to keep from meeting
the homeless veterans’ eyes

once I saw him once