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Since 1996 Volume XXI

Jan Steckel

Jan Steckelís book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a Lambda Literary Award. Her chapbooks Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) and The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) also won awards. Her writing has appeared in Yale Medicine, Scholastic Magazine, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize.

Dream House

Door creaks open to dark. Splintery wood,
cobwebs, cold. Moldy lungful. Furnace filter:

what scrabbles behind blue lint, scurries under joists?
Small temblor, or bump of furry head against subfloor?
Skittering behind the lathe and plaster. Shhhh!

Twittering under the eaves: Bats? Swallows? Mice?
Miniscule droppings, gnawed shavings,
billets-doux stuffed in knotholes. Jacks.
Marbles. Indian nickels. Corncob pipestems.
Newspapers mouse-ground to Pompeii ash.

Tiny skeletons collapsed between dry-rot-eaten beams.
Termite-built powder castles. Generations
of house shrews snore under asbestos blankets
in pine dust beds. Foundation crumbles. Water pools.
Lead leaches out of decades-old paint, drips
out ancient gutters like whiskey from a still.

Daguerreotypes with newspaper backing.
Manuscript fragments that stiffened book spines.
Antebellum glass shattered under cellar floor.
More rooms, more walls, more in the walls
than in the rooms. Always further back
still, another wall, another room, another.



© Copyright, Jan Steckel.
All Rights Reserved.