Basement Apartment (poem)

Boiler is hissing in the corner

like a time-bomb ready to blow,

and the dishes are black crusts

in a sink full of spiderwebs 

and a dirty line of soap scum. It’s evening,

and red sunlight cuts 

through the slit windows

and drips over everything. Bill

nods to the back room and tells me

that’s where they found the boy, his brains

all over the walls like someone

had thrown a bowl of oatmeal, cold gun

on the floor. Been there for weeks.

Neighbors thought rats had died

in the walls, the smell was so bad

when it finally slipped up the winter pipes

and nestled into the furniture.

Bill tells me I won’t hear about it

from the neighbors, at least the ones

who might have heard the muffled shot

if they knew what to listen for. Doesn’t mean

it didn’t happen. I ask him

for the boy’s name, but he can’t remember.

Doesn’t mean he didn’t die. There’s 

a guitar in a corner chair, neck as broken

as a wrung chicken. I won’t let 

these things slip. Even if I ever forget,

doesn’t mean they didn’t happen.



This poem first appeared in Issue 2 of Rabid Oak. It is included in my upcoming book of poetry, Bright Soil, Dark Sun, published through Finishing Line Press.


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