Houses Set Too Close Together

Why worry about the neighbor
who is a stranger
with a stranger’s life
and, besides, too young to know better.
I guess because I hear him scream
in the night, usually
at his wife, but sometimes
louder, the universe.
He had a hobbled foot one week.
I saw him on a crutch.
This week, it’s a weird white X,
some sort of tape, over one
of his eyes. He looks like a dead cartoon.
I think it’s the left one. He looks sad
as the misunderstood kid on the playground.
The one who goes home in the police cruiser
at thirteen or even younger.
He’s young but not really handsome,
but he has those melting expressions
I imagine certain women like. Too much.
He can often be heard
threatening his landlord on the phone
as he paces his front porch.
Sometimes it’s his ex and baby mama. I don’t think
he’s a bad sort. Just dangerous
to himself and, possibly, others.
You can’t live at your wit’s end,
not even if you’re twenty-six.
Maybe he needs to get some kicks.
He’s not stupid. I’ve heard him talk.
But, from what I can tell,
he’s ninety percent rage, ten percent
sage. And prison is full
of armed philosophers like that.
I get the impression that without women
he’d be nothing. Well, we all had a mother.
But you know what I mean. They’re his dangerous
and too-close support network. I know because I’ve heard
her yell too. It can get to be a bit of a zoo.
I know his only plan for the coming winter,
despite the crunch of poverty
and numerous wolves at the door,
is another tattoo. And, after that,
to show it off.

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