The fire truck is silent parked ten doors down;
the same place I heard shots months ago, and held the iphone predialed—
wondering whether to press send.
Lights on the front bounce like an EDM show, and it’s clear
that no one is clear here. There’s no celebration. An exclamation point
tucks its howl, the party fringes—if it ever was.
As a kid, I did everything in my power to avoid that call
buzzing my lips to make sure air got out, blueing
to avoid greening the cost of a siren car.
Consider others: the call is not the emergency, it’s
a plea for help. Some ask more than others. No one
wants to be a taker.
I’ve learned to save safety like the clothbound good books
high on the shelf. Some resist, ask how
can anyone be saved?
And the men in the yellow-striped-black send up a ladder,
though there is no smoke. There is no water save the rain.
They shake the yard fence,
as if to see if it could carry weight. They crest the door.
It crisps the air with Don’t come back. Don’t
let this danger settle in, serve itself
with mashed potatoes and gravy. What urgency brought this? Why
do I feel like the nosy neighbor? The desire to know
is a clipped addiction—
not the kind that calls the cops. A collapsible heroism. A fear
I don’t have to hang on my hat rack. But maybe it’s not worth it to know—
to chip tic-tac pellets of guilt into my window frame
for the silence I offer instead of help.
 A knockdown blow.