Brandon Hartley


Brandon Hartley holds an M.F.A. from the University of Florida and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Once a high school English teacher, he currently lives and works as a freelance writer in Tampa, Florida.

The Day Before the End of the World

The house is almost empty, open rooms
tongued by what little light is left.

Suitcases swollen like clouds sit
barely zipped in the corner of the living room.

What does one pack for such a journey?
If not shoes, then perhaps a map

drawn on the soul, folded in quarters
like a favorite T-shirt.

We lie on the floor where our bed once sat,
our eyes cow-heavy, hands raw from cleaning.

Outside, the stars begin to burn in the lie
they’ve been telling us for years.

I wrote this poem near the end of my time at the University of Florida. I had been thinking about things ending, or more specifically, about things not lasting forever.