Neighbor’s kid pitched a tent last night
on the wooden porch outside
their second floor apartment –
courtyard south side, not the south side
street side, beneath a cottonwood tall enough
to sometimes shade my west window on the third floor
from afternoon sun. College kids streaming
into the apartment across the street
think it’s on campus.
Party started just after noon,
not long after last night’s party
ended, sort of like a pause
between wars people
mistake for peace.
I walk over at 7:30 to try
to talk before it gets too loud and too
late and there’s nothing to be done
but call the cops.
But it seems nobody lives there or
it’s some kind of tardis, and some say
they have come to study,
though nobody’s saying what
and nobody wants to talk about
keeping the noise down. Don’t they
know Babylonian gods have destroyed
more than one world for less?
When the cops come later,
I stand across the street and stop
counting them streaming out the door
at a hundred while a neighbor records the
commotion of their passing on her cellphone. They
stand in the street in clusters, and I walk
around like I would among a bunch of toddlers
talking softly hoping they’ll see it can be done.
A kid who looks to be about fourteen
storms out shouting something
about the upper class
and I walk over
and tell him
I’m not upper class
and he interrupts and says
so you’re on my side and I think what side
would that be but just say no, but I am your neighbor,
and you are making a nuisance of yourself. He
mutters you’re pretty bourgeois as he
walks away, and that gives me
something to laugh about.
I wonder who pays his tuition,
wish he’d stopped long enough
to tell me what revolutionary principle
led him to my street to get drunk.
My partner’s found one of the party organizers
and comes back carrying an empty cognac box
somebody’s tossed on the street to fill with plastic
cups. She’s laughing because they told her
there was a cover charge. And
Cops shoot the breeze while they shoo
privileged kids with a sense of entitlement
who fancy themselves
taking it to the streets off to another
address they’re shouting and texting on
ten thousand cellphones flickering
like spirits rising homeless
at the far end of
prairie that got you started on
nomads following bison. They know
something they followed once mattered,
but now they’re in the hands of a crowd
looking for another place to get drunk.
Cops rush off when they get a report
of shots fired somewhere else, and
we’re shaking our heads here
waiting for the street
to be empty again.
It’s a grid down here,
but cowpaths paved up
north turn it so
folks can still get lost, I know
I wouldn’t have to travel far
to find a field of wheat, a
red combine, and
another sort of town –
but, like this one,
it’s a cluster where
tracks have crossed
marking time and I imagine
the devil still shows up at all of them
around about midnight.
Heat’s been rising off asphalt all day,
and it feels like it could be July.
It’s after 1 a.m. now,
and I can hear maples out front
in the tree lawn, cottonwood
out back dying slow.
Sweat’s still sticking to my shirt,
and I can’t remember if I saw the moon
when I was down on the street
pleading with folks to treat the place
as though it were their home –
like Oklahoma I think
if only I could see the sky.