Poem of the Week: “Home Less”

I went back home to Washington State for Spring Break, and… it didn’t feel like it used to. I’m still not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but I thought I should “write it out.”

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Home Less

People speak of haunted houses,

but never the reverse.

 

We mistake it at first, home,

for the cabinets, countertops, and plastic toys.

That’s, after all, as far as our goals go,

as far as nimble legs can carry us:

to the playground,

TV room,

town bar.

Postcards, plaques, and photographs

hold fast the roof we sleep beneath—

hoarded mortar to the bricks.

All the world’s a game, and

you must be this tall to exit.

 

But over years,

under fees, degrees, double-digit birthday cakes,

expectations asphyxiate—comparisons oppress.

The mind moves but loops, running

not a marathon but a track:

Even if you notice a new patch of grass,

it’s still a circle.

 

And one day, returning turns nothing at all.

Through the front door,

and the past piles on, quarterback-like:

Memories of memories, of thoughtless acts

and thoughts never acted on.

The gravel avenue, the green, greener grass

remain unchanged,

yet the mailbox peels, the Jeep rusts,

and the dusty halls shine quieter.

Mirthful or mournful,

you can’t go back.

 

Every room is an interrogation room,

wrecked by recollections, recursion of diversions.

The bed’s a confessional,

coaxing midnight doubts and dreams

from uncanny comfort.

Bookshelves elevate what once mattered:

Piggy banks, cracked glasses, collector’s editions uncashed.

Half-sketches, bookmarks bisecting paperbacks,

beg questions:

When does a to-do become a once-was?

When does an ambition become an anecdote?

Branch out enough, and the limb will snap

at the base.

 

So it scares me, like a trust fall in transit,

that with so much behind, I don’t know where I’m headed.

Not depressed but compressed, lifted up

and weighed down at once

by the prospect of prospects.

 

Sure, stability is a privilege,

with a cap on laments.

Still, it’s unrelenting, this discontent

when the contents of my mind

mirror the zip code of my former universe.

A false sense of insecurity must come from somewhere.

 

 

When the beginning of your world starts feeling like its end,

the lucid dream becomes sleep paralysis—

a vacation becomes tourism through history.

There’s no cure for maturity,

but there is a placebo.

Just know

 

home is not a place

but a space, a radius

orbiting wherever we go—

satellites of plans, passions, and aspirations.

Home is not a building

filled with odds and ends and quiet blind spots.

It is building:

A life, a wife, a gig, something big,

or at least bigger than you were

the day before.

 

And until I lay those bricks—

wrap those drafts, earn that office,

let a ring follow a call for once—

there’s no place to rest.

But I’m fine being home less.

 

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2 Comments

  1. “There’s no cure for maturity.”

    I love that line, but hate it for its truth. Probably hits home (heh) the most out of the whole poem.


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