Parlors

My neighbor was a member
of a gang, the Latin Kings.
My neighbor sits to my right,
but had lived downstairs.

My neighbor reminded me
of Junior, real country folk,
who attended my great uncle’s wake
back in Bama, some twenty years.

He wore overalls, big country,
to raised eyebrows, even there,
a reunion, though teary
as with this dusty funeral home

that I now attend
a wake for an old friend
my neighbor and I, catching up
a nice guy, good people, someone said

but Victor wore a bandana,
and liked to say yo.
It was known he’d killed someone,
back in Quitó.
He stayed but a few minutes
but his bandana remains with me
just as Junior’s denim
too remains with me.

I step-crunch through frost to the train
in Spanish-soaked Queens,
thinking of tonight’s threadbare parlor
and that ancient Southern evening.

I shiver, thinking Victor
is okay, going to make it,
and I wonder if Junior is still alive.