Listening to the Neighbors

The wife next door shrieks at her husband,
her voice shrill enough to jolt us from sleep
as we press our ears to paper walls,
attentive like boxing fans waiting for the final blow,
a K.O. I imagine her face fire-red, one fist
clenched as she smacks her palm again and again to prove
each point. We hear little from him,
whom I picture crouched in a corner,
like a fighter trying to withstand blow after blow,
her verbal insults and frequent fuck yous,
though she means to banish him from their home,
away from their unborn boy.
You hold me tight, both of us glad
our tongues are not daggers as we hear
her muffled cries, once their curses cease and they realize
how much their words bloodied each other round after round,
how hard it is to revive love
after counting it out.

Brian Fanelli’s poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in Boston Literary Magazine, Harpur Palate, The Portland Review, Solstice, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Red Rock Review, Third Wednesday, and elsewhere. He is the author of one chapbook, Front Man (Big Table Publishing), and his first full-length collection will be out in 2013 through Unbound Content. A resident of Pennsylvania, Brian has an M.F.A. from Wilkes University, teaches creative writing at Keystone College, and recently enrolled in Binghamton University’s Ph.D. program. He is also a contributing editor to Poets’ Quarterly. Find him online at

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2 Responses to Listening to the Neighbors

  1. Allie Marini Batts says:

    Ouch. Great work.

  2. Pingback: Recent Publications | All the Right Notes

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