No ghosts were harmed in the construction of this poem

A new typewriter poem.

And around it goes…

The ghost fashioned out of memory
and too many glasses of something from the cabinet
probably isn’t going to argue with you—
but don’t be surprised if it plays
a few tricks on you here and there

It may not be so pleasant for you
but it is part of the job description

I’d like to have a ghost or two edit my poetry
maybe then I’d be able to get away
from the same old subjects
and the same old ways of saying things

Familiar phrasing may make for a kind of continuity
but to me it’s an unwelcome form of repetition
oozing from the unbandaged wound—

or, you know, something that sounds profound and arresting…

The element of surprise is a recent technique
to give that stream-of-consciousness feeling
as the lines queue their way down the page

I’d rather rely on that than vocabulary
but how interesting can it really be?

Yes, we have reached the questioning-of-the-validity-of-my-art part of the proceedings
it is, after all, hard to pursue a creative pursuit
without engaging in self-doubt on a semi-regular basis

When you get to the thing you’re best at
that’s when it strikes the worst

I mean, I don’t care if I paint
in brushstrokes like a garden hose out of control
because I only do that once in a while
and I’ve painted over enough of my paintings
to know that I know nearly nothing about what I’m doing

It’s okay to step away from that particular activity

I won’t even miss it until I miss it
but I’ll never miss it
the way I miss this thing I do every day—
this thing that’s neither work nor play
but something I do

Poems are not pictures from a camera
but still represent something taking flight

Whatever they are
they’re the same but not the same

There aren’t any pictures involved here
since there is no camera
and no deliberate attempt to frame
something my eyes think they see

I’m putting words on a page
in the order they occur to me—

hoping they might be original
(they’re not)

or say something that hasn’t been said before
(they probably don’t)—

and I keep going until I get so far down the page
that I either run out of words to say
or run out of page

Then I stick a date on it
and try to make it sound better
than what came out unfiltered

If I did it right
it makes some sort of sense
and somehow hangs together
despite ending in a place
very far from where it started

On this particular occasion
I started with ghosts
and some notion of where they come from

I know—it was just one ghost—
but I’m going with the flow
and the flow says ghosts

And why not?

Ghosts should be as entitled as anyone else
to travel in groups

It can be more fun to go off on your own
leaving the group behind
(I’ve done that many times)
but sometimes you want to have fun with your friends
doing silly things
telling stupid jokes
arguing over where to go for dinner
then figuring out the logistics
because some folks live far away
and some have to leave early
because there’s a meeting a work in the morning

Do ghosts eat at restaurants?

If they do, I bet they’re seen as bad tippers—
no matter how much they tip
they’re invisible, so nobody sees how much they left

Ghosts are often underappreciated
we’re so fixated on appearance
that not showing up is often the worst thing you can do

Proving you were there is not enough
if nobody saw you, they’ll never believe you—
unless, perhaps, you did something to make yourself heard

They might remember that—
in which case you’re off the hook
until someone demands to know why
you didn’t stop by while you were there

This is why, as I’ve said before
I’m a huge proponent of the Irish exit—
if they see you while you’re there
they don’t care if you say nothing when you leave

A visible ghost is a friendly ghost…

(29 May 2018)