You’re not the first to come
to this fate, in that apartment.
Two, three times a year it sits vacated.
There was a nuclear family unit
disappearing into calendar’s monthly end,
happy jumble of toys raked from the patio.
Jobless hipsters with pets and child,
the single mother, agony in her eyes,
leading two daughters to a waiting taxi.
Once I reported howling, hungry dogs
to management, to animal control.
There is a fee on the notice, finality
of legal judgment. It’s been paid.
Kid and cats removed,
the last kitchen trash is piled outside the door.
You’ll forfeit a security deposit to cleanups--
milk crate furniture, dirty clothes on hangers.
Kayden’s chalk graffiti scrawls on the patio planks.
After discussion, the landlord assures me
Of better neighbors in the future.
No Country But the War
Civil war and civic crimes match
ward against ward.
The angriest assembly writes the treaty,
the defeated compose their combat chronicles.
Blood stains both sides of a bandanna.
With obscure lines from old movies,
I confess my cynicism, a dread of sentiment,
easily eased appeals.
for the morning to start,
I take the measure of
these darkling city blocks.
Through drinker’s trash, sunrise
blazing across sidewalk standing water,
I take an empty street to its ending block,
spot the gangsters hiding as
defenders among the rent-deprived poor.
I reach under my coat, adjust
the pistol in my waistband.
I walk in the road, past sitting cars,
doors open to music’s slam.
Stooping to collect time-worn coins
scattered in the dirt,
I run the stairs, cross the courtyard.
I’ll sit the balcony awhile,
pour a cup of burgundy
for vendetta ghosts to taste.
Storm clouds and fire wither the sky.
I’ll watch to see what wins the day.