You Break It, You Buy It

My haunted house looks
like a shadow box filled
with silences that no one
can break, ghosts only I see.

When something breaks
something I can’t live
without, I live. I don’t
wonder if it’s fragile because
it’s delicate and rare
or it’s poorly made. Make
no mistake. Nothing is cheap.

The Arsenic Hour

Light leeches from the room
and there is no magic, only
evening and its sadness, the relief
of a day done followed by the realization
of another to come, that is, if you are
lucky. A psychic once told me, Life
gives you stunning luck in times
of danger, but day by day, your luck
sucks. And you talk in your sleep, he said,
a sign of mediumship. The dead speak
through you. But your own voice is muffled,
drowned out by laundry, dishes, an office
where you are always busy and nothing
gets done. You hear a siren, the predictable
emergencies of the night. Don’t ask.


I live in dark circles under
my eyes, as if the night I carry
leaks through my skin. Every
morning tells my secrets,
a partially erased chalkboard
where I sought to obliterate
the past, now reduced to this
lump in my throat. I could
hunt my ancestors like Easter
eggs if I wanted, but it is enough
to carry the dead, their violent
love, their casual murderous
rages, against what I can only
guess. After all, this is the first
day of the rest of my life. Yet
despair sets in like dye, and I
dress as if I have somewhere
to go, anywhere but here.
The joke is on me. I meet
myself at every fire escape,
but there is no fire, just matches
from places that no longer exist.

Michelle Brooks has published a collection of poetry, Make Yourself Small, (Backwaters Press), and a novella, Dead Girl, Live Boy, (Storylandia Press). A native Texan, she has spent much of her adult life in Detroit, her favorite city.