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R.T. Castleberry

Eviction Notice


You’re not the first to come 

to this fate, in that apartment.

Two, three times a year it sits vacated.

There was a nuclear family unit 

disappearing into calendar’s monthly end,

happy jumble of toys raked from the patio.

Jobless hipsters with pets and child, 

the single mother, agony in her eyes,

leading two daughters to a waiting taxi.
Once I reported howling, hungry dogs 

to management, to animal control.


There is a fee on the notice, finality

of legal judgment. It’s been paid.

Kid and cats removed,

the last kitchen trash is piled outside the door.

You’ll forfeit a security deposit to cleanups--

milk crate furniture, dirty clothes on hangers.

Kayden’s chalk graffiti scrawls on the patio planks.

After discussion, the landlord assures me 

Of better neighbors in the future.

No Country But the War

Civil war and civic crimes match

ward against ward.

The angriest assembly writes the treaty,

the defeated compose their combat chronicles.

Blood stains both sides of a bandanna.

With obscure lines from old movies,

I confess my cynicism, a dread of sentiment, 

easily eased appeals.

Death-voiced, waiting 

for the morning to start,

I take the measure of

these darkling city blocks.

Through drinker’s trash, sunrise 

blazing across sidewalk standing water,

I take an empty street to its ending block,

spot the gangsters hiding as 

defenders among the rent-deprived poor.

I reach under my coat, adjust

the pistol in my waistband.

I walk in the road, past sitting cars,

doors open to music’s slam.

Stooping to collect time-worn coins

scattered in the dirt,

I run the stairs, cross the courtyard.

I’ll sit the balcony awhile,

pour a cup of burgundy 

for vendetta ghosts to taste.

Storm clouds and fire wither the sky.

I’ll watch to see what wins the day.

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