For a time I lived rent free in a construction zone, an apartment that the evicted renters had destroyed. Not one interior door hung from its hinges. Every room had holes beaten in the walls. The carpets and walls were disgustingly soiled. My benefactor slowly began to clean and rebuild. He filled and repaired the holes, hung new doors, painted walls and ceilings, stretched new carpet, scoured the tub and toilet, laid new tile, and replaced windows. I helped here and there as my schedule allowed. From my bedroll in the only decent room, which my friend had prepared for me, I contemplated the state of the place, and wrote this poem.
APARTMENT FOR RENT
That soft spot near the tub
where the tile is cracked
and the water has dripped through
and soaked and rotted the subfloor and joist.
These banged up walls with
holes from hammers,
holes from fists and boots,
holes from hurled kitsch,
holes from staples and nails
for draping blankets over doorways
after ragings destroyed their doors.
These windows, their cracks
and missing shards taped over
with clear packing tape and brown masking tape
to keep the furnace from pumping wasted warmth
throughout the length of cold nights.
The renters don’t give a damn.
Their food smears the walls.
Dog feces ground into carpets,
dry but still rank, evoke dry heaves.
The owner is kind,
and he’s tired,
and he’s broke.