Total Plumbing

I overheard our next-door neighbor—

the plumber—

shit-talking my family in depth
this morning
through the open screen of my bedroom

He called my mother
my dad's "old lady"
and I wondered who even
still talked like that
and who that man was
in the leaves
to whom he was yakking.

I've written too often of the black faces
and the hot day radiator smoke
coughing breath—

or maybe too little.

On the hot bright days
I speak to myself insanely
in my father's voice
in sweet-natured tease and comfort
reassuring myself in sighs

bus whimpers and chuckles.

The coffee cups and organ benches are
piling up.

If I invited the plumber over
via the yellow pages

to see the true world

I wonder if he'd enter.