They say the evil twists beneath the house,
with a rotten root that rears upward
through the cratered fireplace.
After all, how do you explain
the murder in ’79, the kitchen fire
in ’86, and the kidnapped boys
back in ’55 when nothing like that ever happened?

The Monday morning after Halloween
proves it again: in the street
an opossum rests
mostly tail and head
though she tried to drag herself
back home into the pines.
A breeze delivers the scent of death
mixed with the mealy smell of fallen leaves,
and the buzzards feast on what remains.

Spooked when a lanky jogger passes,
the vultures lift up as oneβ€”
synchronized swimmers
in the blue sky. They float
into the five-story pines,
dive into the dark skyward branches,
and wait together at the edge.


*Winner of 2nd Place
in the 2022 Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize
from The Heartland Review.