Sunday, August 30, 2020


The Ruins

The people on vacation day trip to the ruins.
They wake up, have some brunch,
Buy tickets and take pictures
In front of ancient relics;
Stonehenge, the Parthenon, Roman Pantheon,
Then post them online,
Rictal smiles that everyone likes and likes.

I'm no tourist, I just live here
In these ramshackle falling down shacks
Buzzing with flies,
Crumbling artifacts,
Testaments to the costs of abandonments.
I've retreated to the broken down places
With broken down doors
Where the window frames are dark holes
That loom with the dead menace of shark eyes,
Where love wanes and kinship gets stretched,
Where the stone slabs lean together like drunks.
Don't ask me what happened to the doors.
I don't even have a roof over my head.
I can't remember why;
Bombardment, wood rot, benign neglect,
But there's nothing to keep out the wind,
The searing sun,
The snow that slowly asphyxiates the floors,
The rain that lashes my bed.
I sleep under the box springs
Curled in a ball on the cold ground
And the sound of the rain 
Is the staccato spatter of manageable pain.

I know, walls alone are insufficient shelter.
A wall is just something to crouch behind,
Lean your back against halfway through a hike,
A barrier to deflect the wind,
Cast a sliver of shade.
A wall is a place to hide
While the world is ravaged by helter-skelter.
But sometimes you take what you can get.
Sanctuary is just the place that lets you catch your breath.

Soon the weeds will start to sprout between my seams.
My own foundation will begin to crack.
I'm weathered, I'm grayed, aching in the joints.
Once I was a home.
Once I gave shelter.
But now I have become the thing that merely endures.
Soon, my son will bring his children to visit.
Loud clock ticking on the dusty mantle
Above a wet hearth that won't ever light.
Restless hale boys looking down at their feet.
They won't be able to imagine the chariot races
And gladiator fights that once raged here.

The tourists too will eventually come,
Drawn by the useless beauty of lost cities,
Lost souls, the lovely absurdity of desolation.
That's me, huddled within my crumbling edifice.
Point and laugh all you want;
You bought tickets, you have the right.
But it's ok. I'm fine.
For I am the test of time.
The ruins are the walls that don't fall down.


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