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Yellow house, a poem by Andrew Chapman

Yellow house
by Andrew Chapman

Where I’m from is a poisoned place.
Walls of lead-chalk and asbestos
bones. The basement brims wickedness.

Feel the doorknob: it’s fever-warm.
Once dusk falls, huddle close, hear
new dangers, what becomes of

young girls who open doors for
handsome men in collared shirts.
Grandma knows, this was her—

years ago in late October, the fields
fresh mown when he married her,
when he carried her here, the yellow house.

He wore white with a paper hat, drove
diesel trucks, drank black lacquer.
Enamel-coated his guts but never died

just mouldered, seeped into floorboards.
She sighs, says, “Enough of yesterday’s blues.”
Now’s the time to spread sleeping bags

on carpet stains still smelling of his leather
turpentine. In the pitchblack, if we can
hold our breath, we’ll hear the cheap

piano play, faint but faithful, those
half-decent drinking songs he taught it
In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.

About the poet: Andrew Chapman lives in Lafayette, Ind.