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In our old apartment, Gary and I discovered
that stacked boxes of hardbacks are perfect
for stopping random drive-by bullets.
We soldiered on until our neighbor’s parade
of night-shifty visitors and chemical stenches
seemed more dire than any broken lease. So

we shed the heavy bookworm cocoon and flew
to Tranquil Avenue. Most days, the newlyweds
across the street screamed like calicos in heat;
at night they’d roll home, arm-in-arm, wailing
whisky ballads. On Sundays, mindful of hangovers
and tired homeowners, the larksome jack next door
fired up his fatpipe hog two hours before our alarm,
lingered astride his pride, enjoying the engine’s croon.

We considered cookies, an over-the-fence chat,
but glimpsed blued metal and crosshatched walnut
under his iron cross belt.  Gary hated to call our realtor
a lying bitch, so after surveillance we decided our lout
was bluff, an undercover cop.  Then we quietly rebuilt
our library in thick oak on the narcward side of the house.

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