Inventory of a Basement Apartment, After Being Evicted

Christmas, 2004 / No. 13

Outside the walls, family and friends,

a few good ones, the barbers all over the city

who each know a fragment of my life—the serious

Romanian barber who commented on a child,

saying, he didn’t move or nothing, and I said

he was patient, only to regret what sounded

like a correction—he was patient, the barber repeated,

snipped the air, and turned back to size up my head.

My old family doctor, who retired and disappeared,

and the new one, almost my age, who smiles

like open arms, the woman who thanked me

at work saying, you’ve been like an angel.

In here, a lineup of Bond films—Connery perfect

in how he pulls off the wetsuit to reveal the tux—

four new walls to protect me, keep warm mice bones

hidden in the ceiling, paperwork I’ll never want to see

again, the heating duct that wants to crack my forehead

but can’t, the cold painted floors, the electric motor

of coffee in my heart because we’re to keep going,

the thought I was buried for the sake of money.

The thin but growing river of bitterness in me,

the desire to hit someone a slightly stronger weed

in my heart each time another homeless tosses me

a nasty remark as I work my way back here.