Ghost Story

The objects we live in and with and around have as vibrant an internal life and a language more complex than ours. This is a first attempt at trying to talk it out with the other half. 

for Anna 

 It was when you said something

about the tombstones behind Quarry Chapel

looking like animals standing still in the dark

that I thought of the man in Kansas

who used a trinity of flashlights

to speak with the ghosts of his parents.

He didn’t know the phantom  effect

was a fluke of science, the incantatory

breath of a metal contact beneath the bulb

rising and falling and rising again.

He didn’t know sister light

had unlocked his heart like an old car

and sewn the leather of hope inside,

that his mother and father were in fact

gone from the farmhouse where he grew up.

Walking in the dark near midnight,

it’s easiest to get the sense

this sort of thing is happening to us

all the time. We are not the only mad

masters of ourselves. No object

can survive void of entropy. Like we give

the knife its blade we give each grave a name,

until these endless white houses lining

the road are nothing but wooden ghosts, until

there’s barely room enough left to live.

Ian Burnette graduated from the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities with a certificate in Creative Writing. He is an associate at The Kenyon Review, a contributing writer for the college section of The Huffington Post and a student in Kenyon College where he studies economics. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2015, The Adroit Journal, plain china: Best Undergraduate Writing 2014 and Kenyon Review. He is a winner of the Adroit Prize in Poetry, Propper Prize in Poetry, Bennington Young Writers Award, Leonard L. Milberg Prize, Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize and the Foyle Young Poets Award.