and some have changed

home for me has been
a nebulous concept.
it isn’t quite
where the heart is,
nor has it been
wherever I’ve bunkered
down with my love,
a string of apartments
like serial monogamy
with no promises
of any tomorrows.

but I do know
what homeless is like,
even if that’s a whole
different poem.

so home, then.
home was the futon
in the tiny den
that was my bedroom
on Brunswick Street,
the first place
I could use as
my permanent address
in five years.

home was the next room,
on Wayne Street,
that I decorated with
magazine cut-outs
and Halloween lights,
with a shelf I used
as an altar for
pagan and pop culture gods.

after that there was no
real place I could call home.
Jersey City, on the whole,
is as close to it as
I can imagine a place
other than Manhattan being,
but until I came back
to Brunswick Street,
four numbers up and across
the street,
I didn’t realize
I was still missing home.
not until I saw
how much that first one changed.

it had been dilapidated,
and we left when the owners
systematically eradicated all
of us renters,
the Red Cross swooping in
with a hotel voucher and
half-empty promises of more help.
and then I never looked back
until I could see it from
my new bedroom window.

shiny, almost modern art,
a systemic change
much like the other changes
in this city I’ve come
to hold dear.
the light fixtures alone
probably cost as much as a year
of my rent,
and being there felt
both like homecoming
and walking over my own grave.

I never did settle into that place,
full of problems and pests
and old ghosts haunting me
from across the street,
memories of my first kiss
warring with worries
of what all those changes meant.

now we live a few blocks down,
and it’s safe and warm,
even if a little loud.
we share our space
with another roommate
and I still don’t know why
but this place feels
like home.


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