APAD: Empty House, by James Kimbrell

Every few nights I walk over here, screen door opened
And springless, leaves now up to the second step,
No one watching out the window but me with my
 elbows
On the ledge, my face staring back at my staring in.

What if, all along, I’d been waiting in there? What if
The bird left its nest behind the mantel and built
Another beside this glass? I still wouldn’t know
How to read something so physical as any moment is,

Something as known as a loose twig, as the look
Of one wing in the other. Maybe it’s true that everything
Leads to this, a night in which silence displays its own

Hidden architecture, the hewn gables, the untranslatable
Syllable of moon in a tilt above the roof, only to show
How absent the self is, picked of words. How near at
 hand.


Growing up, there were few things that fascinated me more than abandoned houses. Left standing in a yard, porches gone crooked, empty windows staring out at me. Weeds growing out of the eaves, looking like an old woman’s unkempt, thinned hair. An empty house beckons. Still. I can’t control the urge to have a look. To step across a crooked porch and listen to how the boards creak. Let those windows peer back at me up close, sometimes distorting the shape of my face or showing me multiple reflections: me looking at me looking at me. I can stand there, waiting breathless for the moment when that final reflection reveals a dark room at my back rather than a warm, wet afternoon.

And how about that? Kimbrell just happened to write a freaking awesome poem about the topic! I can hear the Jackson in his voice. The way his syllables slow down and sprawl. Makes me smile.

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