1. Repurposed

No footloose wind can resist a house

Without windows or doors to keep it out.

But who’d guess that once inside

It would settle down, home at last.

2. Lead-Based

This old green paint has nothing in common

With grass. Against nature,

It refuses to fade and peels less like leaves

Than desiccated paper money.

3. Temp Housing

Distant origins carved in the woodwork:

Oaxaca, Zacatecas. But no one lived here

Long enough to notch a doorjamb,

Marking a child’s annual growth.

4. Defeated

Now that the roof’s collapsed, exhausted,

And hinges have finally lost their grip,

This house has given up—a pushover

For the next merciless wind.

5. Harvest

Migrant ghosts still come here for a season.

Too busy to haunt, they’re out in the fields

All night harvesting loneliness—

The one cash crop that never fails.

6. Apocalyptic

An end-of-the-world uneasiness

Intimidates us here. Even the birds

Feel it. Silent except for the crows

That shrug off everything and get on with it.

7. No Trespassing

A security truck’s jar of honey lights up:

Time to go, leaving these shacks

To silence, emptiness, gloom—

Hives for all the bees of nonbeing.


Don Thompson has been writing about the San Joaquin Valley for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks.