Household Fires

This is the dream as it appeared
When I slept in a room surrounded by
Grandma’s crystal and glassware
Her house has just been sold
As a child I nearly burned her house down
When I dropped a burning rag
Onto the kitchen floor

The title had already been given
Had been there before the dream
I kept returning to the wooden house
To fuck strangers and witness unspeakable crimes
To be the sole witness
Held captive in the house of trauma

Everyone is inured to the violence
Michael is flopping his dick around
He bends over the table to snort some pills
The dog is dying and he’s desperate
To flee his body

Everyone is inured to the violence
Everyone except me, the house and the dog
The dog will soon be dead
So there will be two witnesses left in the world
Me and the house
But the house is complicit
Cannot speak of its own sin

This is a place where bad shit has happened
I intuit this without know what has transpired
What fucked up secrets the family keeps hidden
Everyone inhabits the space as if it were neutral
Mike is on the computer
People are gathered around the table shooting the breeze
Unaware of the memories that swaddle the house
The trauma is thick gauze wrapped around my head
I cannot speak and everyone else is inured
A white boy and black boy are playing on a couch
The white boy shoots the black boy in the head
And wraps the body in a blanket so nobody will see

The air inside the house is thick and combustible
I know what will happen before it happens
On the first floor a fire has broken out
I look out the window and see the flames crawling
Up the walls of the wooden house
Nobody knows that the house has caught fire
Or that there is a dead boy buried beneath blankets

She enters the room carrying the dog’s dead body
The house’s trauma has congealed in the body of the dog
Like a fruit grown in New York City
Absorbing all the toxins of the polluted air
I think the woman holding the dog
Must know something of the diabolical charge
That has been transferred to the dead flesh
She must know
She is silent
Nobody moves
I am gathering my art supplies
I have nothing except my art supplies
The flames are approaching
It occurs to me that I must be swift and efficient
Resist my usual tendency to mull over every choice
To project myself into the future in a desperate
Attempt to apprehend the outcome of my decision
Slight hesitation can become a death sentence
But the house’s imminent collapse does not clear my head
I am still obsessively sorting what to bring
And what to leave behind
I notice I have two yellow highlighters
So I put one back

I know the meaning of the fire
The dead dog
The scorched wall

The trauma is trying to unwrite itself
All witnesses must be immolated
Everyone who has been wounded is marked
Events mark
The residue can never be fully wiped
From the lacquered surface of time
Soon all traces of the trauma and dead boy
Will be gone
And the transubstantiation of suffering into
Atmosphere will be complete
I want to stay inside the burning house
The gravity of the pain is immense and
Though I know I should get out
I cannot break free from the pain’s orbit

All secrets
Will become ether

Jackie Wang is a writer, filmmaker and critic based out of Baltimore, MD. She blogs on politics, literature, theory, and culture and has published works in Pank Magazine, Delirious Hem, Action Yes, Oyster Kiln, and the anthology Other Tongues. In her poetry she is trying to map a queer, anti-colonial, weird-girl poetics of the body. Visit her blog or email her at