Unbidden ~ by Rae Armantrout
The ghosts swarm. They speak as one person. Each loves you. Each has left something undone. • Did the palo verde blush yellow all at once? Today’s edges are so sharp they might cut anything that moved. • The way a lost word will come back unbidden. You’re not interested in it now, only in knowing where it’s been.
Blue Dementia ~ by Yusef Komunyakaa
In the days when a man would hold a swarm of words inside his belly, nestled against his spleen, singing. In the days of night riders when life tongued a reed till blues & sorrow song called out of the deep night: Another man done gone. Another man done gone. In the days when one could lose oneself all up inside love that way, & then moan on the bone till the gods cried out in someone’s sleep. Today, already I’ve seen three dark-skinned men discussing the weather with demons & angels, gazing up at the clouds & squinting down into iron grates along the fast streets of luminous encounters. I double-check my reflection in plate glass & wonder, Am I passing another Lucky Thompson or Marion Brown cornered by a blue dementia, another dark-skinned man who woke up dreaming one morning & then walked out of himself dreaming? Did this one dare to step on a crack in the sidewalk, to turn a midnight corner & never come back whole, or did he try to stare down a look that shoved a blade into his heart? I mean, I also know something about night riders & catgut. Yeah, honey, I know something about talking with ghosts.
Ghost in the Land of Skeletons ~ by Christopher Kennedy
If not for flesh’s pretty paint, we’re just a bunch of skeletons, working hard to deny the fact of bones. Teeth remind me that we die. That’s why I never smile, except when looking at a picture of a ghost, captured by a camera lens, in a book about the paranormal. When someone takes a picture of a spirit, it gives me hope. I admire the ones who refuse to go away. Lovers scorned and criminals burned. I love the dead little girl who plays in her yard, a spectral game of hide and seek. It’s the fact they don’t know they’re dead that appeals to me most. Like a man once said to me, Do you ever feel like you’re a ghost? Sure, I answered,every day. He laughed at that and disappeared. All I could think was he beat me to it.
Ghosts That Need Reminding ~ byDana Levin
Through shattered glass and sheeted furniture, chicken wire and piled dishes, sheared-off doors stacked five to a wall, you’re walking like cripples. Toward a dirty window, obstructed by stacks of chairs. And once you move them, one by one, palm circles through the grime and cup your hands round your faces, finally able to see through— Charged night. Sheet-flashes of green, threaded with sparks, the pale orange pan of the moon— Finally, what turns the wheel: the moon ghosting a hole through a rainbow, the rainbow’s rage to efface the moon, which the moon sails through slow as a ship, in the shape of cross-legged Buddha... Lotus-folded, a figurine. The kind you once found in the Chinatown markets, for a dollar and a dime— Saying you’re dying, you’re dead. You can withdraw from this orbit of mirrors.
All houses wherein men have lived and died Are haunted houses. Through the open doors The harmless phantoms on their errands glide, With feet that make no sound upon the floors. We meet them at the door-way, on the stair, Along the passages they come and go, Impalpable impressions on the air, A sense of something moving to and fro. There are more guests at table than the hosts Invited; the illuminated hall Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts, As silent as the pictures on the wall. The stranger at my fireside cannot see The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear; He but perceives what is; while unto me All that has been is visible and clear. We have no title-deeds to house or lands; Owners and occupants of earlier dates From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands, And hold in mortmain still their old estates. The spirit-world around this world of sense Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense A vital breath of more ethereal air. Our little lives are kept in equipoise By opposite attractions and desires; The struggle of the instinct that enjoys, And the more noble instinct that aspires. These perturbations, this perpetual jar Of earthly wants and aspirations high, Come from the influence of an unseen star An undiscovered planet in our sky. And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud Throws o’er the sea a floating bridge of light, Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd Into the realm of mystery and night,— So from the world of spirits there descends A bridge of light, connecting it with this, O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends, Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.