I was so worn out Sunday night I couldn’t face even a weak attempt at writing. (Yes, we got home safely from our Missouri sojourn Sunday afternoon.) Now I’m three poems behind but still have good intentions.
The day 20 prompt at Poetic Asides was to take the phrase “my __, the __” and fill in the blanks, then make that the title of the poem and write the poem. That’s a wide-open prompt, with so many possibilities it was hard to focus. What I chose to write about really happened about seven years ago in the apartment building where I was living at the time:
MY NEIGHBOR, THE CORPSE
He’d seemed like a nice guy. Once
he knocked on my door and asked
if I had change for the laundry.
A few times we might have said
hello on the stairs or waved in the parking lot.
I couldn’t tell you what he looked like. Average.
Clean cut. A manager in some office.
I didn’t know he was gone
until the elderly woman in the next apartment
stopped me one day to ask
if I’d heard what had happened. In a way,
I had heard but didn’t know it.
Home ill with a migraine one afternoon,
I was trying to nap when tumult erupted
in our ground floor hallway: bashing about,
clanging metal, irritated voices exchanging commands.
I almost shouted, “For God’s sake,
can’t you keep it down?” Next morning
I found tiles had been cracked or knocked loose
from the top stair leading to the building’s foyer.
“I think they said he died
of a drug overdose,” my neighbor mused.
Only later did I recall that hallway disturbance,
the banging metal of the gurney
that must have ruined the stair tiles.
I was already feeling bad about him,
and a little disturbed, imagining him
dying alone among neighbors who had
no idea. I had to feel relived as well
that I hadn’t yelled as they were trying
to wheel him out; or worse,
flung open the door and cursed
at him in his body bag
before I understood what was happening.