Vacant Houses

Ernest Gordon Taulbee

The vacant houses remain in
Neighborhoods throughout
The county, but in the east
End and richer places they

Become fewer and fewer.
The main congestion is
In the west end where
Prosperity never seemed to

Take hold. Not that it wasn’t
Welcomed and wanted, I suppose.
Some of them have been
Abandoned for a decade or

More, but there are only so
Many funds to tear them
Down. Most of them
Have been ransacked.

When I look inside,
There are papers scattered
All over the floor and the
Plaster or drywall is full of

Holes and colored with
Graffiti that sings cautionary
Tales about the depths of
Drug abuse. Of course, some

Of the scribbles are the tags
Left by the city’s community
Of taggers who like to wander
Into vacant houses. I assume that

Is for practice, as it is only
Seen by the junkies, code enforcement,
And the boarding crews.
Most of the houses are boarded

Already. We just go to create
The work order to have the board
Nailed up again, like another
Failing messiah who isn’t going

To save that house or any other.
Sometimes a new board is needed
As the old one has turned to a
Sponge. These houses are always

Trashed. In addition to the graffiti
And teenage vandals, it is a den
For those with nowhere else to
Go. It is an easy place for

Prostitutes and it is common
To see used condoms and
Soiled underwear when you peek
In the door – or a more gory offering.

There are others though. There are
The ones where someone died and
And the heir locked the door. They
Stayed vacant for years. Now the door

Has been kicked open, and there
Is some degree of pilferage.
But the house remains. There
Are pictures on the wall or

A magazine in the doorway
That is from presidents ago.
Something about it seems so
Still and so hallowed. It should

Almost be kept sacred against
Vacant memories of dead days.
It reminds you that it was
Someone’s home at some

Place in the past. Someone
Lived here. They probably died
There too, but there were family
Dinners and family lessons and all

The other stuff that goes with it.
It stops being a vacant structure
And becomes a corpse that hasn’t
Had a proper burial.

One could wander the empty
Rooms and forgotten furniture
Looking for a place where a long
Diseased memory was left behind.