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Friday, May 29, 2009

Extinct




Things die, let's face it. Even things we wish would hang around, go out of fashion, become obsolete, or are superseded by something bigger, better, badder, stronger, faster, or cooler.

Fins on cars, drive-in movies, tight sweaters and automobiles made of all metal, things of the past. Dinosaurs. Extinct.

Well, they may be gone, but they do not have to be forgotten, and they do not have to exist only in museums.

They can live in poetry as well.

EXTINCT

Rotary dial telephones
Holed up in abandoned houses
like shut-ins or fugitives.

Music captured on vinyl grooves or magnetic tape,
Saturday morning cartoons,
Victims of bloodless coups by round-tables of politicians,
Cameo brooches worn by ladies to be.

How I would love to explore the mysteries of UHF and VHF,
Ghosted forms defying static to entertain me,
The last throes of their death more fun than not.

These are creatures who leave no fossils
No trace that they were once with us
A part of us, like the dodo,
Digested and consumed;
Gone the way of the plays of Sophocles,
Or the cursive Q,
The identity of Prussia,
Whispers from history books
Riding on telegraph wires.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How To Be a Ghost




I have always been fascinated by the idea of ghosts.

Not afraid of them, really, but a little bit awed by the fact that there was something driving them that was never resolved, a pull strong enough to keep them from transcending and tether them to haunt an earthly place forever, or at least until they resolved whatever it was they were clinging to.

That kind of determination impresses me.

I recently watched the Ricky Gervais/ Greg Kinnear / Tea Leoni movie called Ghost Town, and watching it sort of altered my perception of the ties that bind just a little bit. The movie's central premise was that it was not about the deceased person' unfinished business that prevented crossing over, but that of the living.

It is we, the quick, who cannot seem to let go of the dead.

Which reminded me of this poem:



How To Be a Ghost

We are alone, and we are alive.
No longer slaves, we reach out
With calloused hands
Toward living silence, but
Our heart startles us
With blood.

We who loved the whispering woods,
The evening light behind the house,
The path by the river,
The dirty red lights shining
On wet city streets –
The sweet, soundless sorrow
Of being free.

When we return,
The breeze and the dawn will
Return as well, flourish
Under our step.
The cats will know.
We will have walked home,
To live where we will live.

We are the cold of winter
That drips under your collar
While you fumble for keys.
We lurk in shivered shadows
Watching for the moment –
The moment when you are
Unguarded.

We are the bravados,
That make fools act the part
In the ways of love, and pain,
And the way the two are never distant,

We are the lines you ignore
until you have crossed them.

We are gossamer nights,
And days of tangled sheets -
Memories that hold you to your heart.

Nostalgia is our meat and drink.
Not the thing, but what you thought of it.
How it changed you.