You can tell, by symptoms of neglect,
something of his circumstance:
the chipped and buckled eaves, deflated
jack-o-lantern beside the stoop,
an ember under snow,
or red ants swarming the sill,
crossing a line of cinnamon
in some far-flung military action.
You can tell, by frying onions,
their thick domestic weather,
or the grim satisfaction with which
his vacuum overlooks
a plain of fur and dust.
I can tell from a little
just what a whole lot means.
You treat me like somebody
you ain’t never seen.

Hackle stacker, mayfly cripple,
and Bloom’s parachute ant
crowd an ashtray—to rarify
the quality of failure.
Mornings, a frowzy Manx
kneads his chest with claws unsheathed,
thrumming with desire
and contempt in equal measure.
Every other weekend, he rolls out
a court-appointed cot
from the closet for his daughter.
You can feel, with your fingertips
against his metal door,
vibrations from the interstate
or seismic evidence
of Furry Lewis,
circa 1928.