Kept Up

Three Thirty creeps on alarm clock,

other side framed by fiancée’s gentle snores

four hours deep in dreams.

Anxiety as I first felt it returns,

that monster that has lived under every bed,

Mind kept meddling,

The rhythm of pedals too loud

And feeling legs’ locomotive lunge

Keeps me from sleep.


My explorations’ memories left me obsessed

By the lonely buildings I sailed by

Which shrunken psych center no longer fills.

Dorm like cabins with chilly uniformity,

Appearance diverging only in

broken windows, vanished doors, unexpected overgrowth.

The spooked whispers of summer grasses

Mask a suffocating silence.

The inconsistent presence

Of a red car on my left shoulder

Gives me the notion

That I’m not welcomed here.

Yellow paint, warning weathered by decades’ decay,

Insists: CAUTION.


I still feel the sting of strength,

Willed to speed from the place which was prison to many

The way escape set fire to thighs and burned up to lungs,

And how saplings I saw in sepia pictures

were so much taller now; casting shadows, insisting leaves.

My ascend is followed by remains of border’s picket,

Uneven and white,

Haunting the grounds like ribs of a man;

weak, left in the sun to die.


Present Being in a Desolate Place

It was ninety-five degrees

as I slid into Joe’s front seat, cursing the temperature that

blurred my driveway and forced teardrops

to form on my forehead. Megan sits behind me,

glossy eyes stare out of the glass.

She is our perpetual passenger when it is

Tuesday, our day for adventure.

The sour tab numbs my tongue

windows opened, hair flies, speeding down the

curvy hill, descending into our valley town past

the penitentiary built on a hill the

Iroquois once found so beautiful,

they buried their dead there.

We pull through the sole light, my eyes

trace the fancy letters : JAMESVILLE HARDWEAR,

Contradict the dirty corner shop, cluttered

with lawn mowers no one will buy.

The red car slides into the depot, now a vacant

building in a slow plaza, a gas station, the post office.

Ghostly train tracks run still.

We wrestle our legs off

jealous leather seats. Eager to walk down the two

neverending lines, bright leaves, songs of ageless birds.

I cannot help but wonder who lived here

before we came and left these tracks.

My worn green tennis shoes carefully balance

across from Joe, as Megan hops from tie

to tie. Orange signs warn us,

A drop of anxiety boils in my stomach.

We aren’t supposed to be here.

The old cement factory, which all our lives has

haunted this old town looms

above us. Larger in person, I swallow sober fear.

Yet still, we walk closer. Ants in comparison to rusty

walls, broken windows shine in the late-afternoon sun.

I am the only hesitant one of our trio,

Do we dare disturb the rest of the

desolate past?

An empty noose swings thousands of storys above

us, attached by pranksters some daring night.

I peer down the long pit below. Mangles of bone,

no order to the fur, blood around it. Joe mimics my stare,

“It must have fallen in,” he shrugs

walks away.

We climb to the highest point we can find inside the

rotting factory that once employed hopeful migrants. I watch over the

toy cars, rolling hills, dollhouses, Butternut Creek, and our

single stoplight slowly


A map laid before me, one I knew innately, born scratched inside my skull

now seen through my fuzzy eyes and stagnant mind. I wonder

Where I’m from.