Empty Farmhouses • Troy Schoultz

You see them off highways marked

with carcasses of dead deer, eyes still open

tongues out, bemused by minuscule length

of their disposable meat lives.

Scattered wrecked holdouts along the back roads

that used to be the highways. Gutted,

flaking lead paint, buckled roof and doorways

with cataract windows. The thin scar of gravel

through tall grass like a fossilized snake

marks the ghost of a driveway.

I eye them on my drive home from

whatever crises I have lived each day.

I want to take the first exit, find my way

to the forgotten highway, follow that

scar of gravel as far as the snake allows,

wade through the cut grass and paintbrush,

survey the stone foundations fashioned by

hands now bone and dust,

step across the threshold like a widower groom,

breathe in the decay and old memories

like a wine snob in a goblet.

bask in the gutted solitude, weave your way

through rooms asunder, pick up broken dishes,

found objects waiting for human touch

once again. Take a seat on an unbroken chair

and watch the autumn sunset through a shattered pane,

listen to something crawl and chew within the walls,

tell yourself

only the insane

choose to not be hermits.

by Troy Schoultz, from Biographies of Runaway Dogs