Photo Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths
645 Phillips Ave.
House whose basement flooded
during every rowdy rain. House
whose staircase creaked
like the knees of the retired farmer
I imagined built it. My family rented it
a century after he could've lived,
ambulance garage adjacent,
sirens that breeched our sleep.
Most my parents' fights
happened in the morning, coffee maker prattling
while birds pecked yard for food.
With sister and friends, I dragged
dad's ashtray Kools, pulls
banked in the jagged snub before butt.
A crony borrowed my bedroom
to bumble with Danielle Combs, Magnavox
lilting dubbed R&B.
Some nights, by myself, I climbed
out a window to sit
on moss-blotched roof,
meld my eyes to sky.
Whoever owns this house
has torn it down. A removal crew
hasn't yet trucked up.
Blocks of baked clay, mortar
in stray, gray strands, plaster
ironballed to flour, disconnected
intestine of pipes.
You should do like me, lift
an intact brick,
let it chalk your palm maroon,
let it convey the weight it takes
to cog a wall, to tolerate
110 Ohio winters, let alone
the sounds and the heat
each tenant pressed against it.
Poets' Condolences To Critics
your delicate skin forbids you
from the June sun strumming
every atom in this public park.
Sympathy for your keen
allergies, frenzied by the fine
green powder our children
kick airborne, running
and play-screaming through clover.
Our gravest laments extend
toward your diabetes, dismissing
this stocky slice of Sweet Potato Pie,
auntie-baked (unwritten recipe
only family's allowed to learn).