Tag Archives: ghosts

It Happened One Night

Photograph by Jose Padua
Not a day or week goes by
working late at night
downstairs in the dining room
of our hundred year
old house when I don’t
imagine that when I stand up
and go to the kitchen
for a glass of water
or after midnight snack
or into the living room
for the cushioned splendor
of our beat-up old sofa
to give my back a break from
the stiff wooden chair
I sit on when I write
that I’ll look up
and suddenly see
a ghost, a spirit, a misty
entity that will make me
gasp, then yell or shout,
waking up everyone
in the house,
and they’ll come down
the stairs to see me,
the color gone
from my cheeks,
my knees a little weak,
my hands trembling slightly
as if I’d just crossed paths
with the infinite,
or put too much jelly
on my toast.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

Marquee Moon

Photograph by Jose Padua
This is a poem for all the nobodies
who got fucked over
by someone with a name
and became ghosts,
who once held blueberries and radishes
and tiny animals in their hands
and now find that these things slip
through the mist that has replaced
the meaty flesh that once made their hands
things they could grip cold doorknobs with,
who once walked with heavy feet
on sidewalks through town
and moved their belongings
from room to room and city to city
in a suitcase they held
their arms around on the bus,
and who found shelter from the rain
by adjusting their hats.
When you’re a nobody
and you’re a ghost,
no one knows what to call you.
There’s no name for your style of haunting,
just the ghost man on the stairs,
or the ghost woman who screams at sunset
on County Road 725
, or that thing.
Sleep is disturbed but no one
understands the message,
your ghostly touch startles
but is mistaken
for the buzzing of a fly
or drafty windows
that the living swear they’ll replace
when they can afford it.
You cannot breathe,
you cannot think.
You try to touch again,
but the mist of your fingers disobeys,
your curses cannot be heard,
your existence removed,
over and over, again.
Life, we know, is hard,
and the afterlife may be even harder.
When I was young I lived in a house
with a ghost with no name.
This poem about the ghost was
written in winter under another roof
while listening to the solid sound of rain.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

When We’re Dancing the World Feels Like Higher Mathematics

Photograph by Jose Padua
When we’re dancing the world feels
like higher mathematics, equations
of irrational numbers that exist in
the real world the way ghosts haunt
dark abandoned buildings on the edge
of town. It’s the times we talk, nights
we walk by them like wire walkers
at great heights, and those numbers
of days when there’s nothing and
we divide it by the occurrence of nights
when we think we might see, or could see,
something that equals a frequency
in which time is a circle and incidence
a diameter. Sometimes a ghost is
the number you can only approach
from around the corner when your hands
are in your baggy pants pockets, which
is why it’s so hard to run in your dreams
when you’re trying to get away from
bad guys. We sit still, or stand back
in the stillness of the ancient aether
even as our souls swirl and twist like
rivers and streams and wandering gusts
of wind when we’re not dancing.
And we lie down in the deep where
numbers are not for counting because
we have traveled too far to simply
walk home, and the infinite becomes
less abstract the more we move.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

For All the Ghosts Who Rise Up Against the Superficial Horror We Fabricate in the Name of Darkness

Photograph by Jose Padua
Although I have, on occasion, cursed at the light, I have never cursed
at the darkness. It was there where I first saw a ghost, which was light,
but the darkness was what made it possible, gave it shape, and made its
stillness profound like a great work of art. Light was the end product

but darkness was the point. Moving through a room when everyone else
has gone, where the faint scent of bourbon from a glass is the only clue,
I expect the sudden intrusion of ghosts but they never arrive. Sitting up
in bed and looking toward the far wall in the dark or driving a quiet road—

a mailbox, a robe hanging from a door, or a sign pointing travelers toward
the oldest building in town will appear to move but it’s only the darkness
giving it imagined life. In the light, everything is abandoned and everything
is separate: clarity keeps everything hidden. I watch in the darkness as the

universe expands, as the ghosts step up from their well-lit graves and the
lights in the merciless city turn dark and like infants we learn how to breathe.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua