Ghosts & the Supernatural

New York American Spell, 2001

I / omen

What was going on in the New York American
Black/red/green helmeted neon night?
The elevator door was closing behind us, we were the ones

Plunging floor after floor after floor after floor
To the abyss — but it was someone else’ s face
Staring from the screen out at us, someone else’ s face

Saying something flashing from the teleprompter:
Though what the face said was meant to reassure,
Down in the abyss the footage kept playing,

The Meadow

Across the road from where we nap
under a dead elm dazzles the meadow
where the partisans strung the traitors up,

the meadow which their dangling shadows stain.
Belly up in vines a blasted tank
rusts flake by flake to lichened scrap iron

while horseflies harangue
the rippling green, July
a limbo of quavering yellow...

We wake to cattle lowing at dawn,
grass overgrowing summer — so like us
in love each hour with the noonday sun

The Eve of St. Agnes

St. Agnes' Eve — Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told
His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
Like pious incense from a censer old,

Relating to Robinson

Somewhere in Chelsea, early summer;
And, walking in the twilight toward the docks,
I thought I made out Robinson ahead of me.

From an uncurtained second-story room, a radio
Was playing There’ s a Small Hotel; a kite
Twisted above dark rooftops and slow drifting birds.
We were alone there, he and I,
Inhabiting the empty street.

The Thorn

“There is a Thorn — it looks so old,
In truth, you’ d find it hard to say
How it could ever have been young,
It looks so old and grey.
Not higher than a two years' child
It stands erect, this aged Thorn;
No leaves it has, no prickly points;
It is a mass of knotted joints,
A wretched thing forlorn.
It stands erect, and like a stone
With lichens is it overgrown.

At Melville’s Tomb

Often beneath the wave, wide from this ledge
The dice of drowned men’ s bones he saw bequeath
An embassy. Their numbers as he watched,
Beat on the dusty shore and were obscured.

And wrecks passed without sound of bells,
The calyx of death’ s bounty giving back
A scattered chapter, livid hieroglyph,
The portent wound in corridors of shells.

Then in the circuit calm of one vast coil,
Its lashings charmed and malice reconciled,
Frosted eyes there were that lifted altars;
And silent answers crept across the stars.

Labuntur et Imputantur

It was overcast. No hour at all was indicated by the gnomon.
With difficulty I made out the slogan, Time and tide wait for no man.

I had been waiting for you, Daphne, underneath the dripping laurels, near
The sundial glade where first we met. I felt like Hamlet on the parapets of Elsinore,

Alerted to the ectoplasmic moment, when Luna rends her shroud of cloud
And sails into a starry archipelago. Then your revenant appeared and spake aloud:

The Apparition

When by thy scorn, O murd'ress, I am dead
And that thou think'st thee free
From all solicitation from me,
Then shall my ghost come to thy bed,
And thee, feign'd vestal, in worse arms shall see;
Then thy sick taper will begin to wink,
And he, whose thou art then, being tir'd before,
Will, if thou stir, or pinch to wake him, think
Thou call'st for more,
And in false sleep will from thee shrink;
And then, poor aspen wretch, neglected thou

Millions of Us

Purportedly a chain of civilians, soldiers, voices
lice they were called. It is sometimes sufficient to beg
Lice creeping over one, kill them with a chemical;
then there are lice-ghosts everywhere. Glints of pearly
nails. The light of my beloved will keep me from noticing.
Trailer to keep her in; he asked me if I knew her ‘auction name.’
Walked over the scorch; what are values when there’ s nothing here?
The wing of a dead soul grows into all the lace you see through,
foreigner, lice-ridden article of divestment. Splendid vices