when the mud comes

the pallid house, the livid house
it ate the proud, it ate the young
it reached out with its scarlet tongue
or were those roof-tiles, gleaming?

those fine, fat lawns, those glossy shrubs
their roots like squirming worms and grubs
the tennis courts, the swimming pool
clear as vodka, warm as drool

the Maserati on the drive
with scarlet leather stitched in black
seamless, keyless, gazing back

glass wine cellars, marble halls
Möbius sculptures, mirrored walls
cat’s cradle for a chandelier
sinewy and trochlear

years it feasted, years it tasted
the smooth and luminous, silken-fleshed
they entered lavish, left in debt
no more backward glancing

and now the house is grown with mold
the fungal house, the charnel house
the fly and rat, the luckless mouse
these are for its wasting

and on the mountaintop it rots
and on the mountainside it slumps
and down the mountain slope it slides
when the mud comes, when the mud comes


Sitzfleisch Poetry Hour–“anyone can write poetry for one hour a month!”


I wrote something more personal at first, but it made me cry, and also it wasn’t very good. So I deleted it.

Then I wanted to write something fun, but it ended up being this. Gwynne had a successful night of turning a failed short story into a good poem. That made me want to try something like that. But not, I thought, tonight. Too late for that.

So then I wanted to write something reverse-Gothic. Not like “girl-running-from-house” gothic (thank you, Kathleen Jennings), but “old woman-running-to-house” gothic.

But this came out instead. Just a monster house. It started out fictional. Then I started reading about houses, and now it’s half-based on a true story of a house called The One.

Anyway. It’s all very silly. I need to write more poetry so that I can write something I really like and also really mean. In the meantime, at least the process remains interesting.

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