If the Fire Is in Your Apartment


You live in a combustible building, love,
so warns the fire notice on your door.
Sure, the apartment is controlled for rent,
above a laundromat and liquor store,

but have you not observed the plaster tear
and the hardwood floor curl its long-nailed toes
when flames, for regulated gas, consent
and sear cod fillet and asparagus?

Or when you plugged in the a.c. with hand
damp from an afternoon of sex, were shocked
by the hideous circuit hidden in cement,
unplanned combustion in what’s built and blocked

from us who slum in this construction sham.
So read this notice. Plan your escape route.
Run if things ignite without intent
and hammer every door on your way out.

Previously published in Shit Creek Review.

“If the Fire Is in Your Apartment” is collected in Jee Leong Koh‘s second book of poems, Equal to the Earth (Bench Press). His newest book is Seven Studies for a Self Portrait.

Object(s) to bring back to life: “If I could bring back anything from the past, I would bring back an A&W frosty mug of root beer float.”