I don’t live in that world, that aching red

room of dim lights, the white statue of an elephant

stuck in the corner, and someone inevitably

half-asleep and drooling on the sofa.

The door rarely opens, and when it does, someone

new slouches in, hands in pockets, jacket dirty

or scuffed, shoes untied. We are in permanent

disarray here. We don’t comb our hair.

The alarms on our phones ring incessantly, snoozed

every nine minutes, or disregarded entirely,

so there’s a quiet shrillness under everything,

under the bass humming through the floor

and the murmurs of empty conversation.

We draw lines across the skin of each other’s arms

and swallow.