Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What Phantasms May Come

These ghosts are charitable enough, I think,
to give of their ephemera and remain in
the dark corners of the drab kitchens of
our apartments.

These ghosts, fragments of memories
other people have had, linger here for
reasons we can hardly fathom, but
whatever afterworld they eschew,
preferring our company, must hold
little enough allure,

Because, listening to our cyclic
conversations about working and
our predictable hobbies, the fear we
have of the way the world is going,
the anger at wounds that will never
quite heal over and be forgotten,

Listening to the clumsy way we
attempt to comfort each other, at
the love we find mute and intractable
within our own bodies, that which we
hope can save us in the end, yet quell
so often when we find it difficult to
live down the words it promulgates,
the works it calls for like the voices
of ancient gods that are not content
with simple kneeling,

These ghosts, patient souls that they
are, must worry and clank through
darkened nights on our account,
more, perhaps, than charitable with
us, their adoptive wards, who have
yet to know their own folly,

And perhaps, in other ages, we
will take their places, insubstantial
in whatever dwellings the future
people prefer, dreams that won't
quite fade, whispering words they
won't hear, causing their electronic
gadgets to come on and engage
during the sleeping cycle, always
a half-step away from touching
their reality and telling them all
we have, finally, learned.


Mushster said...

My mind has just returned from wandering around in 'phantasy-land'.

I decided to make myself a coffee inbetween reading and commenting and have just stood in the kitchen for five minutes looking into the dark corners, asking 'them' to help me see what they see and thinking about guidance and Guardian Angels lol.

Wonderful, as usual. :)

MB said...

What a fascinating idea. This seems less grounded in the concrete world than most of yours that I've read. You smoothly paint the picture out of luminous and translucent suggestions and suppositions... and you throw in that zinger of a fourth stanza... and it all works.

Bill said...

I often wonder if we'll actually "get it" once we're done with this life Firehawk... it will really suck if we don't.

The thought that there are 'old souls' trying to guide us, is something I rarely think much about... but in some ways, I'm pretty sure it's possible.

Once again, a sweet journey through the post.

drthunder said...

Ah, best friend, ----- This is nice. Each time I read it, I come away with a little more. These are definitely thoughts to re-visit.

Firehawk said...


I'm not usually one for ghosts and so forth, but I read a book with ghosts recently, and so they were on my mind. Glad my little poem got you thinking for a few minutes.


I think you may have "tuned in" at a particularly concrete period in my writing. Flights of fancy are not unheard of with me. Glad you thought that the whole business held together and made sense.


I don't know if we ever figure out the mysteries of "life, the universe, and everything," but I like to think that we gradually start to understand our own little part in it as we go.

Thanks for your kind words.


The re-runs are free, so you're welcome to them.

Thanks, everybody, for coming over during the beginning of the holidays. It's appreciated. I wish you all well through whatever midwinter celebration you prefer.

Stranger Ken said...

Supernatural entities don't usually get my vote, either, but what I took away from this poem, which, as Moose said, does have different qualities from other recent work, is the sense I always have of the presence in a house of those who have lived in it before you. It's rather like a Chinese whispering of invisible presences heard when walls knock, doors click or those sounds of the night occur that convince you someone's walking up the stairs. I don't like to use phrases like "ghost of the house", although ...

I appreciate that the other aspect of the poem concentrates on the way these ghostly presences might comment on the way the living manage their lives before becoming ghosts in their turn, which is a theme closer to those you've used in other poems, but for me, the very enjoyable strength of the poem has to do with the way it evokes the notion of the secret lives of houses.

Firehawk said...


I really like that idea--the secret life of houses. I think, as much as anything, the idea that something of the previous residents remains in their passing, some sort of impression from all their thousands of steps across the floor--that, as much as anything, factored into my thought process. Of course, on the human side, one wonders if these little signs and reminders of tenants past are somehow sentient, or lend their consciousness to a place, but I think, in the end, it's about our relationships to places, and wondering if there's any of "us" left over when we leave. I think the fear of being forgotten drives these mythologies more than anything.

Again, thanks for the insightful comment.

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