The downstairs neighbors are having
a bad day. Last night they had
a bad night. Yesterday, at least
during those parts of the day
when I was at home, they were
having a bad day. The night before
last, etc.

I try not to listen. (I want
to listen!) I try not to press
my ear against the floor and I
am almost always successful.

It hardly matters. This old
building is built like a honeycomb,
sound traveling well up and down
the cells. (They’re shouting now
below me—I want to listen!)

Even without pressing my ear
against the hardwood floor,
I can hear “Fuck!” and “I
told you!” and “Don’t” and
“Help me, you never help me,
I have to do all the fucking”
and then it trails off and
then the dogs bark. Yes, they
have dogs, two of them. They
bark. Sometimes they even howl.

“Fuck” is the word easiest
to hear in this honeycomb. It’s
like the punch of a fist.

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