National Poetry Month Day 16: “Post-Apocalypse (With HGTV Magazine)” by Jeannine Hall Gailey


Post-Apocalypse (with HGTV Magazine)

The houses line up in neat rows, uniform and crisp. We wonder how to dress, like Scarlett O’Hara, cutting up the drapes in the demolition. The color schemes run towards camouflage, zebra print or oak leaves. The fires destroyed so much except the beachfronts and mountain treehouses, the millionaires’ mansions mangled behind vast gates. Everyone fled the cities; now we look for country charm, for provisions, for a secret bunker of canned food and Cipro. Try the islands of Washington State, where the whales still call mournfully, or the snow-caps of Whistler, with tidy condos next to freshwater springs, equipped with generators. If you must roam the streets of Detroit, Chicago, Cincinnati, be warned the dogs have all gone feral and have eaten all the white-tailed deer. Sometimes a patch of community garden remains intact, like a beacon, but mostly it’s barbed wire and looted, boarded storefronts. Which of us was trained to go off the grid, in a land free of cell phones or running water? Camping by lakes in the thousands, refugees bargain hunt among empty houses, a lamp or a map or a mouthful of mashed potatoes. We wonder through our neighbors’ carefully showcased homes, fixed up to sell, vacant-eyed: wondering – gas or wood-burning? Was the safe still sealed? There’s a lone shoe on a staircase, the last vestige of someone’s question: take or leave? What, in the end, is essential baggage?


Jeannine Hall Gailey recently served as the Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She is the author of four books of poetry, Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, and the newly released The Robot Scientist’s Daughter. Her web site is

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →