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STALLINGS, A.E.


Recitative


Every night, we couldn’t sleep.

Our upstairs neighbors had to keep

Dropping something down the hall—

A barbell or a bowling ball,


And from the window by the bed,

Echoing inside my head,

Alley cats expended breath

In arias of love and death.


Dawn again, across the street,

Jackhammers began to beat

Like hangovers, and you would frown—

That well-built house, why tear it down?


Noon, the radiator grill

Groaned, gave off a lesser chill

So that we could take off our coats.

The pipes coughed to clear their throats.


Our nerves were frayed like ravelled sleeves,

We cherished each our minor griefs

To keep them warm until the night,

When it was time again to fight;


But we were young, did not need much

To make us laugh instead, and touch,

And could not hear ourselves above

The arias of death and love.