Thin Walls
Shevaun Brannigan
Joe's in the other room lifting weights,
hissing like the cockroaches in the kitchen.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe on the record player,
there are strange things happening every day.
Our neighbor is learning how to cook—
the whole place always smells like chicken.
We think he beats his mother, but
it might be his dog. Either way,
the police don't seem to care.
Packages get stolen here. People post fliers
pleading for the thief to return special
ointments, china figurines, one-of-a-kind books,
all of it sentimental value only.
A long time ago I lived in a fancy building.
Fifteen stories with a rooftop pool. Second night there,

a woman stabbed her boyfriend in the elevator.
I still remember the wet-floor sign over the blood.
The silhouette of a man's dramatic slip.
Joe swept me off my feet.
I know the feel of a floor giving way beneath me.
Shevaun Brannigan is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, as well as The Jimenez-Porter Writers' House at The University of Maryland. She has had poems appear in such journals as Best New Poets 2012, Lumina, Rhino, Court Green, and Free State Review. She is the first place recipient of the 2015 Jan-ai Scholarship through the Winter Poetry and Prose Getaway. Her favorite poetry gig is the workshop she leads at her local Domestic Violence Shelter, and her work can be found at

more by Shevaun Brannigan:
Ode to Kingsessing