The Ghost of Perry Smith

I saw the ghost of Perry Smith on the bus.

It was near Christmas.

No snow yet, just cold rain –

the kind that always finds a way to your bones.

I heard him talking to himself.

He said he was going downtown

with just his guitar

to sit down on some street corner

or in front of a store

and maybe get some coins thrown his way.

He sounded angry,

maybe homeless once again.

I was not afraid.

I sat still,

holding my breath – I don’t know –

maybe there are no ghosts and no rebirths,

and after all, the story was still too fresh in my mind.

But he had the profile, and the hair,

and something else – the thing in his eyes –

like iron, like venom, like hate.

No holiness that evening, no angels in disguise.

Just rain and mud, strange elbows in my sides

and the ghost of Perry Smith on a dirty old ride.


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A Nightmare

The brain is a silent movie forest.

Bare black branches, startlingly symmetrical,

bowing towards each other

yet keeping space between them,

like a gate waiting for the ghost.

In my dream everyone walked circles around you.

We were in a guesthouse,

playing TV trivia games in the common room.

You always asked me how I was.

You were warm and somewhat slow.

We became more than friends,

and that was when the other ones

stopped talking to me

and just let me tag along,

like I was wrong for having touched you.

I didn’t care.

But then I lost you inside a shopping mall

and came out in a different world,

where an old man grabbed me around the neck,

with thumbs like slugs wedged behind my ears.

I slapped him and got a punch back.

I walked home with a bleeding nose,

shaking with revulsion,

until I knew I had to wake up.

Outside, the overnight snow had already melted.

Trees swayed in the cold wind,

bare, almost black,

still keeping space for you.

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Like the kraken,

you never existed.

For a second

I thought I saw you on my sofa,

your knees sprawled to the sides –

a book tired of staying closed.

I am not small,

but I would have sunk into my core

to make room for you.

Consider once again the giant squid –

Researchers once thought

they’d heard it snore,

but as it turned out, it was just

two pieces of the planet’s crust

grinding obscenely against each other.

You drew in your many limbs,

turning your body into one great fist,

and longed for the ones

who would strip you of your skin

and wear it.

From them at least

you know what to expect –

no voices to startle you

with songs to the sleeping beast.

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Book Recommendations for Myself and Others

I like the Popsugar Reading Challenge because it gives you prompts instead of a list of titles and I decided to give it a try this time.¬† So, this is a list of what I would suggest – to myself, first of all, because there are gaps in my reading. Hope you find something interesting too ūüôā

  1. Book¬†Made Into a Movie You’ve Already Seen: “Rashomon” by Ryonosuke Akutagawa
  2. True Crime: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  3. Next Book in a Series You Started: The Scar by China Miéville
  4. Book Involving a Heist: Neuromancer by William Gibson
  5. Nordic Noir: Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist
  6. Novel Based on a Real Person: Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
  7. Set in a Country That Fascinates You: The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany, because you didn’t say *real* country and I love loopholes.
  8. Time of Day in the Title: Billiards at Half-Past Nine by Heinrich Böll
  9. About a Villain or Antihero: Grendel by John Gardner
  10. About Death or Grief: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  11. Your Favorite Color in the Title: The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy
  12. Alliteration in the Title: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  13. About Time Travel: The Time Machine¬†by H.G. Wells, because I did mention gaps in my reading…
  14. Weather Element in the Title: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
  15. Set at Sea: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe
  16. Animal in the Title: Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  17. Set on a Different Planet: Ringworld by Larry Niven
  18. Song Lyrics in the Title:¬†Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me by¬†Richard Fari√Īa
  19. About or Set on Halloween: The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
  20. With Characters Who Are Twins: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
  21. Female Author Who Uses a Male Pseudonym: Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)
  22. LGBTQ+ Protagonist: Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  23. Also a Stage Play or Musical: Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  24. By an Author of a Different Ethnicity Than You: Xenogenesis series by Octavia E. Butler
  25. Book About Feminism: The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
  26. Book About Mental Health: It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  27. Book You Borrowed or was Given to¬†You as a Gift: People don’t lend or gift me books because they fear I might already have them and, besides, they can’t figure out my tastes. I’m alien like that.
  28. By Two Authors: The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
  29. About or Involving a Sport: Umm, pass.
  30. By a Local Author: Raiul gńÉinilor¬†(The Chicken’s Heaven)¬†by Dan Lungu – a novel about life in post-Communist Romania, by a sociologist
  31. Book Mentioned in Another Book: A Rebours by Jorys-Karl Huysmans (mentioned in The Picture of Dorian Gray)
  32. Book From a Celebrity Book Club: Haha, no.
  33. A Childhood Classic You’ve Never Read: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  34. Published in 2018: Um, The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin???
  35. A Past Goodreads Choice Awards Winner: Nope.
  36. Book Set in the Decade You Were Born: Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
  37. A Book You¬†Meant to Read in 2017 But Didn’t: The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison
  38. Book With an Ugly Cover: Dude, that cover has feelings.
  39. Book That¬†Involves a Bookstore or Library: “The Library of Babel” by J.L. Borges
  40. Your Favorite Prompt from the 2015, 2016, or 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenges: First year here so n/a
  1. A Bestseller From the Year You Graduated High School: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
  2. Cyberpunk Book: How ’bout proto-cyberpunk? The Stars, My Destination by Alfred Bester
  3. Book that was¬†Being Read by a Stranger¬†in a Public Place: That’s a haha, no.
  4. Book Tied to Your Ancestry: Ask Baba Yaga by Taisia Kitaiskaia, heh heh
  5. Fruit or Vegetable in the Title: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
  6. An Allegory: Lord of the Flies by William Golding – ’bout time
  7. By an Author With the Same First or Last Name as You: The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler
  8. A Microhistory: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  9. Book About a Problem Facing Society Today: The Alphabet versus the Goddess by Leonard Shlain
  10. Book Recommended by Someone Else Taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: n/a

NOTE: The text format was found on Thank you, kind soul, for taking the time to transcribe this.

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The Robing of the Bride

Inspired by one of my favorite paintings. Click to read in The Ekphrastic Review.

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A Journey

The door to your mind’s garden

is guarded by tools from the devil’s forge.

I can’t help sticking pine needles into my eyes

if I see you too much.

Your face is made of stone,

and the sacrifice was not optional.

Trying hard not to smile,

you walked like an earthquake,

you made me fall through my own cracks

under the earth’s crust,

where I learned

that we are all born with wings

and the only enemy is forgetting.

I will not be bound

by tears that flow like blood from perverted stigmata;

I will search the skies for the giant fish

that carries on its back the world we want.

I will go there by myself –

not abandoned, but upright with the pride

of a beast thought long extinct.

NOTE: The imagery in this poem was partially inspired by the work of Romanian artist »ėtefan C√Ęl»õia

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The Lioness

She could not be born today ‚Äď

not on the magazine covers

showing pictures of twenty-year-olds

putting on little girl uniforms

only to spread their legs,

not in the house where

Bluebeard’s wife gives him a hand

in throwing a new corpse down the cellar stairs,

not in the crowds of the living

with their touchscreen lotus-eating machines,

who have forgotten that they live.

The human mask hides the head of a lioness,

but you’re only looking at the body.

You think it was made for hands and eyes.

You don’t see how it was also made for war,

and you don’t see how she would fight for you.

All you know is how to put her through

the thorns of things you fear ‚Äď

and so she walks unborn.



*See also:

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