Procrastination, Anger, and Insomnia

I feel like pulling all the rafters down around me.
Everything is uneven, slanted
in this damned house.
The corners, un-flush with each other
and the floor plans pulling apart
and letting in insects, hungry insects
that crawl the walls, leaving their sticky insides
on the once fresh paint.

The tables, too, are in on it.
Their legs stretch in bends
not straight, not solid.
They are like wood-colored water
permeable to the touch of my hand
my notebook, absorbing with odd avarice
my pens, my paper clips.

There's nothing to trust now
that the house has turned against me.
Everything is evil and shifting.

The dumb hushed slant
of the poorly placed shower rod
the warped window sash
and the mystery stains on the ceiling.
The locks crunch stubbornly
their hinges are slipshod
and the angle of the protruding cellar doorway
is not ninety degrees to the hall.

Awful, it is, that the squareless, brainless decay
of this architectural debacle
a house without math
should bother one like myself
possessing no linear instincts or inclination
to the straight, the narrow, or the just.

Yet I have a conviction that the shingles are counterfeit,
spreading their tar teeth in a duplicitous grin.

When visitors ask what afflicts me
I say this, that the dwelling dissembles.
My domicile is twisted and wild, a liar
seated neatly on dry land
but with its insides hollow
unhallowed and rotten to the core.

A hall of hypocrites
walk its walls nightly
smashing balances against the beams.



Kristen Havens lives in Los Angeles, where she works as a movie studio temp, private tutor, editorial assistant, and substitute teacher. She is currently at work on several screenplays and a novel.



I think the genesis of this poem was the discovery that some of the doorjambs in my mother's house were crooked. I then became convinced that the bathroom ceiling was slanted. The more I thought about it, the more I believed these to be indicators of my own insanity, until I went home this summer and my mother announced that the bathroom ceiling was literally dripping into the tub. Had I written the poem now, it might be about roofers, quotes, and caulk.