Susan Rich

What If a House Could Draw its Own Blueprints? and The Decision
October 24, 2021 Rich Susan

What If a House Could Draw its Own Blueprints?


The house grows wild, floats
one eyeball above the roofline.
The backdoor listens to nimbus clouds
and the small concerns of the wisteria.
What might a house know?
The chimney blows green bubbles,
uncovers the shape of the cosmos.
The house doesn’t like its ears.
It doesn’t like to listen to Madonna or Frank Sinatra.
No one ever says amen to the speckled wallpaper,
the supporting beam, its creaks and crevices.
Long ago, the house learned to do without
romantic love, a lion clawed tub.
Still, it craves the company of a skogkatt.
If the house could speak it would call out
in cryptograms and Hebrew letters.
It would not propose marriage
to the A frame next door or paint
itself in indigo with a sexy red door
to pass through. It would wave
goodbye to its foundation,
step out and leave the porch light on.


The Decision


On my hardest day, I dressed, walked
onto the balcony, setting off the system’s alarm
in the time when only drug dealers and paranoids
wrapped their houses in Radionics—
the 80’s. Days of velour and lycra,
hotpants and Farah Fawcett hairdos.
While I taught for the Peace Corps in West Africa,
banks installed computers that dispensed dollar bills
and asked each of us to type-in a secret password.
I wanted a word that would open-up my life.
Grocery stores started bar codes—
how did the silent square know so much?
The Walkman appeared, and the mixed tape rose in stature.
I was a mix-tape—baby or no baby?
What was the combination code to bring my delinquent
fiancée home? And the damn bells kept ringing—
I’m keep it, was all I wrote on the postcard,
except it was in French. I’m keeping myself
was what it said. And I posted the fragmented
blues and fiery reds to his last known Paris address.
I’m keeping it, I said as I left the wailing in my brain
the alarm now inside and outside the apartment—
then the body no longer my body but
a cathedral of past seductions seemed to disappear;
and so, I did what was asked for:
I headed towards the abortion doctor
and strolled off the balcony into the land of the dead.

Susan Rich is the author of five books of poetry. Her most recent is BLUE ATLAS (Red Hen Press). Her awards include a PEN USA Award, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Times Literary Supplement Award. Rich’s poems have appeared in the Antioch Review, New England Review, O Magazine, Image Journal, and elsewhere.