Hell From Below

The upstairs neighbors keep to themselves.
Who wouldn’t? It’s a rough neighborhood.
Gang members are so brazen
they’ve taken to wearing police uniforms.

I sublet a basement from the rats
& commute to work on an exercise wheel.
The shower smells a bit like sulphur,
but the hot water always comes on right away.

I pass people on the street
with faces like crushed cigarette butts,
but I’m sure they’re perfectly nice
once you get to know them.

I hear things, sure—
some kind of BDSM party, I guess,
or an amusement park
with too many scary rides.

The fire alarm goes off on the hour
& there’s a low thrumming, as if from a mill.
Whatever they’re doing up there,
it’s got rhythm.

From time to time the shrieking stops
& the silence wakes me from
a sound sleep, wondering
what fresh hell is this.

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