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Tearing Down Houses

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  • Tearing Down Houses

    The dusted-up, beer-stained wall paper
    curled at the edges like one side of his smile,
    the other remaining where it always was.

    The carpet, soaked a few shades darker,
    evaporated to an almost-white ceiling
    so that sometimes, if I was dizzy enough,

    floor became ceiling
    and ceiling became peeling swirling walls.

    But it wasn't all shades of dirt on ivory,
    there was clarity, like the brick through
    the window and onto the dining room floor,
    thrown with enough hate to reach from the street.

    It wasn't terrifying. They just patched it up
    and tapped another keg.

    Shawn, spelled phonetically, made sense to me,
    like trips to Denny's at 4 a.m.
    and Lighthouse burgers on Saturdays,
    he always knew the plan before we spoke it.

    But then they had to walk,
    they had to pack it up and map it out.

    So they resurrected the corner house,
    blamed us for the burial.
    It almost looked like opening my eyes.

    Shawn forgot the happiness of dizzy,
    took up hiking in another city, decided
    it was better to have pockets stuffed
    with futures, dust, and legal tender.

    There's a newspaper clipping I held up high,
    a proud mother, drunk and thrashing,
    showing her children a beer-stained inheritance,

    and it's blurred in smiling tears, imagining
    curling wall paper through a darkened doorway,
    crooked smiles and children gone for good.