From here on the third floor I can tell he’s dead.
No neck bends like that
and keeps the head alive.
No leg twists like that
and doesn’t make a live one scream.
Was half asleep when it came –
the tornado of wheels and engine
into the corner, then the thud and
the almost-slowing of the car
before it sped up again and rolled through.
Now the street’s a carnival of red and blue
with the roused crowd uneasy on the sidewalks
and in the windows. Cops asking, did anyone
see anything, and no we didn’t.
It was a metal song, not a movie, from here,
and not the first time we’ve heard it. Mostly
we’re a peaceful people but sometimes we get
ignorant and loud and fatal. When that happens
we’re usually too late to the window to see it go down.
You’d think the cops would know this by now
but still they ask and poke and hope
that one of us might speak up. And if we could
we might, or I might, or I would. But I was late
to the window. I try not to watch the neighbors
live and die — affording them the same courtesy
I hope they offer me if I’m the guy whose life
derails into alcohol or drugs, into just plain
screwy screaming one night, into walking out into traffic
praying someone else is as screwy as me
and will do the job I won’t with two wheels, four wheels,
or a gun. Keep the other guy’s name out of it
if it’s ever me out there lying bent on the street.
If it’s ever me it was a long time coming, not
the accidental work of a moment. It will be
what was meant to be. Don’t breathe a word to anyone.