Suppose You Were a Bad Ghost

By MARCI CALABRETTA CANCIO-BELLO

You tried so hard to be good, turning 
the shower on when no one was home,
brushing your teeth so inaudibly 
that even standing in the hall with an ear
pressed to wood, no one could hear you.
The sun could not freckle through you,
but each morning you pressed your palms
against the wallpaper as if you might 
one day slip right through into daylight.
Once, you went so long without laughing 
you forgot how to start altogether.
You watched one scary movie per year
to insist you knew how to be brave,
because you knew you weren’t
transparent enough to pass through
when those hands came spoiling at night.

Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello is the author of Hour of the Ox, winner of the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry, and co-translator of The World’s Lightest Motorcycle, by Yi Won. A Kundiman fellow and NEA fellowship recipient, she is a program manager for Miami Book Fair. Visit MarciCalabretta.com.

[Purchase Issue 24 here.] 

Suppose You Were a Bad Ghost

Related Posts

Messy desk in an office

May 2024 Poetry Feature: Pissed-Off Ars Poetica Sonnet Crown

REBECCA FOUST
Fuck you, if I want to put a bomb in my poem / I’ll put a bomb there, & in the first line. / Granted, I might want a nice reverse neutron bomb / that kills only buildings while sparing our genome / but—unglue the whole status-quo thing, / the canon can-or-can’t do? 

Leila Chatti

My Sentimental Afternoon

LEILA CHATTI
Around me, the stubborn trees. Here / I was sad and not sad, I looked up / at a caravan of clouds. Will you ever / speak to me again, beyond / my nightly resurrections? My desire / displaces, is displaced. / The sun unrolls black shadows / which halve me. I stand.

picture of dog laying on the ground, taken by bfishadow in flickr

Call and Response

TREY MOODY
My grandmother likes to tell me dogs / understand everything you say, they just can’t / say anything back. We’re eating spaghetti / while I visit from far away. My grandmother / just turned ninety-four and tells me dogs / understand everything you say. / They just can’t say anything back.