The Burned House

The burned house
on South Third St.
looks bad from the front,
charred windows,
front door boarded shut,
fluorescent orange papers
from the city warning us.
Heat that night even buckled
some of the siding
on the house next to it.
Still, it looks like
there might be hope.
But when you walk
down along Second St.,
and look up that ridiculous cliff of a hill
to the house’s rear,
you see the whole back
of the building is off.
It’s like one of those dollhouses
that split in two to show.
Its burnt ass is in the wind.
And every single room
is monochrome burnt black.
Every bed and dresser,
every floorboard,
every mirror on the wall
black ash ready to crumble
or just fall.
It’s the freakin’ House of Usher.
The hope up front,
the truth out back,
like so many people
up and down these hard streets,
tottering, condemned,
that we knew
or that we know,
and wonder each day
if they are still up.

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