What's Left

Edited by Hal Y. Zhang

Copyedited by Chelle Parker

June 2022

There’s a house on my street
where grass weasels through brick
and dandelions sprout little worlds
beside beer bottles filled with scat.
Birds stash nests with plastic in a rusted bathtub
and stray cats tryst their tails,
short-circuiting the night under a pregnant moon.
This house festers. Few walk past that don’t stare, asking,
“Can wreckage ever be a good neighbor?”
Ruins like this can emerge anywhere.
Spaces once filled with worldwide signals,
piped in through the walls, surfing alongside running-hot water.
They are once-lived-in wounds that speak
with what can only fit between palms.
Crumpled. Smelt.
The house on my street was stripped and vacated in a hurry.
The owners took what they could carry.
They knew the science of rodents: everything eyed for mulch.
They left a gash so large it felt like a door to a world
tour-guided by one-eyed teddy bears with discarded cell phones
that turned ether into black noise.
The owners couldn’t help but leave skins behind unattended.
Passive bakers of dust.
Sometimes, I walk down to the house
and wonder what it might take to love
a place like this. A house hunched,
the past on its back, its future in soil.
Sometimes, a spider dangles from a rotting beam,
its own chandelier, and I think, Yes,
you too can siphon a statement, though I won’t understand.
You too, stranger, are ambient.

© 2022 Jarred Thompson

About the author

Jarred Thompson

Jarred Thompson is an educator and literary studies researcher whose poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have been published in various journals — notably the Johannesburg Review of Books, Racebaitr, Lolwe, Doek! Literary Magazine, and FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. He was the winner of the 2020 Afritondo Short Story Award. You can find him on Twitter at @JarredJThompson.