Neighbors Smoke on an Apartment Porch Owned by a Mental Health Agency

Sheryl Luna

Dazed with rambling gossip,
their looming net of mistakes,

their love of rumor, they all dream
arousal. They are far from indifferent.

Their language bellows need.

A gull darts over and behind
bare buildings, shaggy forests, mountains,
city streets. Trees lose leaves, and one

man insists the leaves aren’t dying
after collecting outdated food at church,

upswing in full euphoric force, he’s
certain he’s spreading world peace.

Men at work lumber to dumpsters.
Oaks yellow. Rocks trap leaves.

Jehovah’s Witnesses mouthed salvation.
Janice listened wishful,

but today she relays her own bitter story:
lazy sister-in-law fat on a couch,

quarter-sized bedsores on her ass,
brother-in-law blind, stumbling drunk.

Hearts rigid and numb, neighbors forget
crepe myrtle blooming pink.

Impermanent and frenetic worry hums.
Eyes grow glaucoma blue. Sucking

cigarettes and mumbling, they stand
hardy as an autumn day’s
geraniums, hard before winter.

Sheryl Luna is the author of Seven (3: A Taos Press, 2013) and Pity the Drowned Horses (University of Notre Dame Press, 2005).