Last Look, poem by Daniel Ruefman

Paint peeled
from the clap­board sid­ing,
a house slant­i­ng
sharply left;
long bro­ken,
the win­dows were black eyes
to the soul of what was
left to linger.

Inside,
the stove pipe hung
slight­ly askew
where the cast iron bel­ly once warmed
the bones of sev­en kids.
A moth-eat­en quilt draped
on the wick­er rock­er
near the thirsty hand pump
and rust­ed steel basin.
Sev­en­ty years of beer bot­tles
pornog­ra­phy, unfurled con­doms
and tramp cut cans
clut­tered the room
with a bat­tered antique mat­tress
atop a crooked,
hand-hewn cher­ry bed frame
that moaned of mar­i­tal oblig­a­tion
and teenage twid­dling.

Out back,
the shoul­der-wide track
of white, Alaba­ma sand
began at the door; it wound
through the row of sycamores
and down the lane
to where the peanuts and cot­ton
were plant­ed.
An old mule plow
rest­ed in the cor­ner
along a short stone wall,
the rem­nants of leather reins
limp against blade,
half-sunken into the earth
wait­ing to work once more.

Between
the field and home­stead
the smoke­house leaned on
a stack of hick­o­ry
wedged between the splin­tered side
and the bloom­ing chin­aber­ry bush.
Under­neath the rot­ting foun­da­tion
a hole
with some liv­ing thing inside
unaware of the doz­ers
idling near­by
wait­ing
to tear
it all
apart.

 

Daniel Ruef­man is an emerg­ing poet whose work has most recent­ly appeared in SLAB, The Fer­tile Source, Tonopah Review, and Temenos.  He recent­ly com­plet­ed his Ph.D. in Com­po­si­tion and TESOL from Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia, and cur­rent­ly teach­es writ­ing at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wisconsin–Stout.

 

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