i am trying not to drink
but i came home last evening
and some asshole was blasting rap
into the street.
we usually live on a quiet street.
i went for the bottle
but said no, it isn’t worth it.
my wife says i need to develop
other calming mechanisms.
so i shut the windows
even though it is eighty-eight outside
and make dinner.
the music is off in minutes.
the next day, i read the sunday paper
and think i’m really going to make it
through the day
without having a fit over booze
and having my chest tighten again
but the asshole across the street starts in
with his loud music,
so i put on my shoes and head outside
thinking i’m going to kill this fuck.
i get across the street
and some guy is on his porch looking
down at the noise.
i ask what are we going to do
and he shrugs at me, looks like
he wants me to handle it
and this is about the time the anxiety flares
about the time i’m starting to feel old
because everybody says pain comes
with being old,
so i take it upon myself to knock
on the door.
inside is an older white woman
who sees me but doesn’t answer
she runs into the back
to go and get her old man,
who comes racing toward the door
shirtless and in these suburban yellow shorts,
and i think, christ, he’s going to barrel out here
and attack me
and my heart is racing now
to match my sore chest
and i feel the anxiety coming on.
but he stops short at the door
and asks me what i want
i tell him i’m a neighbor
i tell him to turn the goddamned music down
and he says why, because he has to hear
my music, and everyone else’s shit
and i say i live across the damned street
and he’s not hearing a damned thing of mine
and a light goes off in his head
and suddenly maybe he doesn’t want to be
the neighborhood prick
in the middle of july on a ninety degree day.
he tells his old lady to cut the music.
he looks at me and says are you happy?
i say far from it.
i’m clutching my chest
and my wife is across the street
to make sure i’m all right.
we walk back into the apartment.
i pop two ibuprofen pills to ease the ache.
my wife asks me if i’m all right
because she knows her hands are shaking.
i say yes
but my chest is still going
and i feel weak and useless.
i say someone has to take care of this
and she says i’m like the sheriff of bay ridge.
i nod and leave it at that
but i don’t want to cop anything.
i just want people to start using
their fucking brains
like i’m forced to do every day.
because juice has
a tart bite to it
put the juice
in the scotch glasses
and sit back
with the radio
like it isn’t
ignore the chest pains
the doctor says
it isn’t the heart.
at least you
drink the juice down
as mozart’s 4th
turns into beethoven’s
try to enjoy
the juice is no
but at least it isn’t
like all of the food
you have to eat.
finish the juice.
sniff the scotch bottle
while you’re in there
only another 10 days
if your lucky.
try not to get angry.
being docile keeps
in the chest
and shoulders away.
the air passages
pour another juice.
pour one for your wife.
sniff the scotch bottle again.
take the juice
into the other room.
drink it and smile.
the whole weekend.
the next week
until you get to be
whenever and wherever
that may be.