Boiler is hissing in the corner
like a time-bomb ready to blow,
and the dishes are black crusts
in a sink full of spiderwebs
and a dirty line of soap scum. It’s evening,
and red sunlight cuts
through the slit windows
and drips over everything. Bill
nods to the back room and tells me
that’s where they found the boy, his brains
all over the walls like someone
had thrown a bowl of oatmeal, cold gun
on the floor. Been there for weeks.
Neighbors thought rats had died
in the walls, the smell was so bad
when it finally slipped up the winter pipes
and nestled into the furniture.
Bill tells me I won’t hear about it
from the neighbors, at least the ones
who might have heard the muffled shot
if they knew what to listen for. Doesn’t mean
it didn’t happen. I ask him
for the boy’s name, but he can’t remember.
Doesn’t mean he didn’t die. There’s
a guitar in a corner chair, neck as broken
as a wrung chicken. I won’t let
these things slip. Even if I ever forget,
doesn’t mean they didn’t happen.