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  • My friend said you should never
    sleep in the room where you work.
    I could only afford a single room,
    but I found one split by pocket doors.

    I wrote at the one table in the place
    and slept in the interior dark, my head
    against the air shaft of the divided tenement.
    The day’s poems no longer haunted my dreams,

    but through the shaft came squeaks of love
    and cackles and shouts and a cat's lonely howl.
    The homeless man’s wheezing refuge in the stairwell,
    aggressive buses and sirens of ambulances.

    I gave up and slid the doors into the walls,
    let in the streetlight and defiant click of after-hour stilettos,
    rode the wake of snowplows and street sweepers,
    awakened to bagpipes parading down Seventh.

    My friend, an accountant, closed the door
    on numbers and clients, and slept in peace.
    But my work was poetry, night music,
    which no door could keep out, the very stuff of dreams.

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