The One on the Fire Escape

standing on the fire escape,
worn and rustbolted to the old brick
outside our kitchen window:

i can hear someone beating a dog in the alley below me.
whimpers and sharp whines.

echoes between the sharp sound of slaps
and dull thuds of kicks.
the low grunt of a man’s voice.

i pull long, deep drags from my cigarette
and anxiously flick ashes in silence –
they flutter downward away from the light.