When Doctors Come

by Josh Rathkamp

Im watching TV, something about fashion
housewives curb appeal pawn shops kids
drinking and fighting until I realize
even if its not a rerun, Ive seen it before
numerous times, a whole
marathon I cant not watch
because in front of me are lives
lived as if Im standing inside them,
but its only my empty brown couch
next to my empty brown loveseat,
a few orange pillows, all of us watching
Hoarders, people who pack their houses
so full of stuff their lives without it
feel empty. When doctors come
holding the hands of the hoardersloved ones,
they dont look surprised at the soiled
diapers stacked high as their heads,
and with care, they curve their bodies
around mounds of rotten food,
riffle through bags of still tagged clothes,
and when they bring in hazmat
masks and shovels to scrape down the walls,
the hoarders hear the concrete clang
of a basement floor and panic,
breathe deeply, leave, scream
theyll never be back
until we see them circling
the ten-ton dumpster blocking the driveway,
trying to recover loss.


Josh Rathkamp’s second collection of poems A Storm to Close the Door won the 2015 Georgetown Review Press Poetry prize and will be published in Spring 2016. He has also authored Some Nights No Cars At All (Ausable Press). His work has appeared in literary journals and public art projects, including American Poetry Review, Arts and Letters, Poet Lore, and Rattle. He directs the Creative Writing Program at Mesa Community College.

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