the dying Italian mother of seven
raps the ceiling with a wood cane
as we make love in silence—no
less eager than a mother scolding

her children for horseplay at the
public pool. if she has the energy,
she’ll stamp out Debussy or the
Berlin Underground with her

cracked heels; complain about
the smell of herb as she smokes
Pall Malls rapid-fire from the
porch. she’ll yowl from the eaves

at a mechanical chirp—throw a
beach towel, a blue cup, and the
lawyer’s Christmas card against
the door. the neighbors we tell

laugh, and we laugh, too; laugh
as she’s called an old rapper, a
half-dead ghoul from the buttress.
laughing until we are alone again,

hoping the other will know what
to do: two grown men in a one-
bedroom apartment, wishing she’d
come right out and call us faggots.

Matt Vekakis is a poet & educator. He is grateful to have published recently in Meat for Tea: The Valley ReviewHigh Shelf Press, Cathexis Northwest Press, Tule Review, Peregrine Journal,and Waccamaw,among others. He lives with his beau in the Tofu Valley of Western Massachusetts.