The Man Across the Street – Joe Arcangelini

The man across the street
used to beat his wife
in the middle of the night
in the middle of our dead-end street
in the rain
in the fog
in the moonlight
in cold sunlight
but he doesn’t beat her anymore
she’s left him

the man across the street would
scream at his kids, and I was sure he
beat them too
the look in their eyes, their
slouched, wincing posture
old hound dogs crawling out from
under dead rusty pick-up trucks while
the father screams random drunken curses—
they are gone now, too
—the kids

my roommate developed a strong
erotic attraction to the man across the street—
they never met, but the roommate would
watch him from behind the sheer fabric
of my aging curtains—would ooo and ahh while
talking to me, excited by the angry man’s
taut-muscled, well-defined torso,
the broad shoulders,
strong arms and
his tight
roommate was no slouch in the
torso and ass department
with youth on his side,
fearless of folly—

     go ahead, I told him.
we watched
as the man across the street,
shirtless in the sun,
loose beltless pants sliding down his
sweat-soaked butt, beer can
gripped in his fist
raged around his junk-strewn
obstacle course of a yard
—all his animate targets gone
left alone
without focus—

            go on over, I said,
introduce yourself.

it is time.


Joe Arcangelini: Born in Pennsylvania, 1952. Migrated to the West Coast in 1973. Began writing poetry at age 11, stories in my teens, and memoirs in my late 40s. I’ve had work in a lot of little magazines as well as The James White Review, Bear Magazine, and Jonathan. I’ve written for small newspapers and had work in three anthologies, including the Lambda Award-winning I Do/I Don’t: Queers on Marriage. A collection of poems, With Fingers at the Tips of My Words, is available on Amazon or at Blog:

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