The Morning My Neighbour’s House Burned Down

Zack Martin


Two days into a cold snap I made steel-cut oats for breakfast. It was the kind that takes 30 minutes and a lot of stirring to make. I had woken up early since I slept alone that night.

For oats, I always add whole milk to thicken, honey, and cinnamon to taste. Sometimes I add firm blueberries if we have them, but it wasn’t the season. I ate, left my plate and pan on the table, and went out not telling what was clouds or smoke.

The smell of cinders seemed comfortable in the cold air. Many of these old houses were built with redwood for joists and pine for framing, all felled near here I think sometime in the 50’s. I smelled cedar as well.

This all used to be an orchard and at some point, it wasn’t anymore,
and people just built houses but left a few fruit trees in their yards. I’ve seen apricot, persimmon, avocado, and so many lemons just rotting around on the ground ever summer.

They say it may rain today, but I haven’t known it to rain this late in the winter.
It just looked that way.

I stopped to watch the firemen tearing it down to the soil, using wheelbarrows to carry away the melted contents of kitchen cabinets, a microwave, dog crate, a television, sticks with nails poking out. There was water all over.

Her tree was still there though,
budding defiantly in front of what was left. Probably a peach but could have been a plum, hard to tell before the blossoms peak out.

I went home, soaked the oat pan, and began my day. It did rain that afternoon, hard.

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Zack has been meaning to set up a website linking to his work but his full-time performance art installation where he pretends to be just a marketing data analyst all day keeps him pretty busy. As part of that project he has a twitter account with one tweet and a LinkedIn profile.

Your best bet to find more from Zack is to google "Zack Martin Poetry". He’s the one that doesn't write cowboy poems.

PoetryJeremy Bibaud