the plainsman

once the alleyway scuffles have
subsided and the garbage trucks
have gulped their bitter dregs
i slip from dreams into my place
amid cinderblocks and pines on
a one-way street headed north.

when i turn up the thermostat
the pipes make sounds like ghosts
placing plates into a microwave.
i tilt my mug to my mouth and
muster a toast to their appetites.

in the halls some movers are
hauling a piano. their remarks
are intermittent, interspersed with
dissonant staccatos. they grunt.

when the landlord calls he speaks
a syntax of buildings: the complex
she used to live before moving here,
the palliative care wing at the
second of the city’s two hospitals.
the funeral home down the street
where, he says, they held a modest

again i wonder at the weight we must bear.
how our ceilings are each other’s floors.