by Denise K. James

On a bicycle trip, all houses look the same
despite porches, shutters, bougainvilleas,
despite the slow wave of new-age sprinklers
or the gleam of front steps and door knobs.
Squint and they all suddenly match.

I see through walls to people crouching
as something went on so close by —
because what protects our lives from flame?
What could shield us from great endings?

If the time comes to have our jaws erupt in powder
a house does nothing. Hiding
places from the truth — yes, that’s all
and not even good ones. The doors
cannot keep out despair. The roof
is made of mother nature, and she has thoughts to kill herself. 

Denise K. James is a Southern writer and editor currently dividing her time between Charleston, South Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida. Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, The Grief Diaries, Eat This Poem, Illuminations, Heartwood, and elsewhere. In her spare time, she enjoys taking road trips, hoarding periodicals and making kissy faces at the neighborhood lizards and birds.