The Neighbor

She waved at me from across the street

with her flabby arms, like she was in a parade.

There was no candy at my feet. She was still

in her slippers, we didn’t need each other

just the gesture. She had everything she needed,

water, shelter, food, and heat.

Long ago the natives depended on each other

for survival. Now, she with her kind and me

with mine, we look good on paper downtown.

Hell, I don’t even know her but we have watched

each other’s movements for sixteen years now.

Perhaps we will meet?

It’s a quiet street, no outlaw’s just sparrows

and squirrels that watch for hawks. We don’t need

each other for safety, for trading whiskey, furs,

guns or gold dust. The ground doesn’t rumble today.

My lever action collects rust.

We have become bells that ring only when things

go wrong. We are somewhere between apathy and ape

alienated by the white lines in the street.

We will never go into the hills on buffalo kills,

we will never watch the wolves run with jaws full of

red daggers from a dark cave.

Sunset falls bitterly late. I don’t blame her any longer,

we are as enduring as stones.

We will never meet.



Billy Malanga (M.S. in Criminal Justice) is a first generation college graduate, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, and the grandson of Italian immigrants. He played college football and worked for many years in a state prison system. All of these influences have undeniably shaped his way of thinking about his art. His poetry reveals his small victories and also his struggles in redefining masculinity in an effort to better understand the beauty and brutality of the world around him. His recent poetry has been published or is forthcoming in The Ibis Head Review, Cold Creek Review, Dime Show Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Spindrift Art/Literary Journal, and at The He currently lives in Urbana, IL.

© Billy Malanga


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