Tomorrow, the Rubble

A poem by Jon Riccio


It was a brothel with tiles that turned

to diamonds when viewed from the stairs.

The rafters held a weathered swagger. The arches

revealed a bathhouse drained of its shimmer.

Some suggested a shopping center.

The school board wanted it razed.

Voters passed a millage. The mayor deemed

it a hazard. Councilmembers provided the cranes.

The chains clanged, gunmetal against gauze,

a decade since AIDS fused the doors,

bolt cutters the building’s only sound in years.

Tomorrow, the rubble.

Tonight, the wiring of tombs.

We brought dynamite to a plague,

bound the railing in caps past

bundles of pylons clustered as

shrines to men long diseased.

We lined the explosives from basement

to attic, hard hats privy to I-beams.

The foreman murmured something about

asbestos, the softness in his voice

untethered of its frame.

One of the crewmembers prayed.

You’d think the girders were saints.

The detonator glimmered,

the brothel purged.

Shrapnel, its least concern.

Jon Riccio is a PhD candidate and composition instructor at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers. He studied viola performance at Oberlin College and the Cleveland Institute of Music. His work appears in apt, BoothCleaverHawai’i Review, Switchback, and Waxwing, among others. He received his MFA from the University of Arizona.  

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