There is a ghost for each crack of the child’s heart. Her ghosts are neither good nor bad. They bless, they poison, they offer deliverance through wood and poetry, through empty buckets and walking sticks. The ghosts take the form of wild beasts, of her parents, of a long hallway, a warmth pressing between her legs.
They are all things at once while reflecting her nothingness. They are born from her dreams where the she-monsters cry, where the mermaids drown, where the warm rush of his arms in the river made her see God.
for a voice. Squelching arteries. Shine the jugular,
Upside down the garments
Of the Sun. Right-side up now, Watching her light spill out.
And this is how I’ll play,
This is how I play.
She knows more than she can handle,
She knows more than me,
A girl-child child-self holding a program for the apocalypse.
She dreams of heaven every night she runs away.
She dreams of heaven every night she can’t run away.
And this is how I play,
And this is what we play —
A symphony the susurrus of ancient leaves,
Worn down by a million solar winds.
Spines lying bare at the mother’s feet,
the poetry slipping out her teeth.
Us lying awake — him reaching, she running, we becoming
little nothings, all over again. Smash the keys.
The stars shine, all over again.
The seas rumble, the F Sharp screaming
against D Minor’s weeping –
all overwhelming again.
Emptied bellies growing fangs, together
The kids gang up on the weather.
Heal the ice caps by melting their knees into hot tarmac.
No ancestral fevers now to wipe the ash of the world with,
Just these songs. Just these songs,
Sang into the hollowed-out trunk
Of a dead tree. A prophecy
constellated in the stars. Brightly now
the fingers of children
dreaming themselves alive
between arpeggios and wet bed sheets.
The planet’s heart strings
in every child’s unheard
A Strange Joke
Sometimes you bruise a fruit
To make sure it’s real.
The songs of plastic
Have nowhere to go
But back into the
The hollowed-out hearts of their
Price tags. A scratch on this orchid
Won’t release the same
Geometry into the air
The form of bliss, the shape of scent.
The sugars in these melons
Won’t attract ants, not even in decay
Will they be squashed. If not for the
Fire the winds wouldn’t sing
Through them. She told me, “Here,
This flower, token of our
Love, look. It won’t ever die.” She placed it
in a vase full of water, a strange joke. Alone, I said,
“But it smells like nothing. Can we really
Call it love without ever having breathed life
Into it, without having gardened
Through debris and detriment, building from nothing
The roots needed to feed
The stories we shape – or is this enough,
A slide across the screen, the slippery
Borders between attraction and rejection,
Handing our love over to the anxiety
That nothing here was built to last past
The twenty-first century, so why should we ever
Get real flowers for each other? Why should
Anything living be kissed
into the lonely water of the flower vase,
To grow old, to wrinkle up and dry,
To die. Why risk it,
When all our foods have turned
More lifeless than stone?”
I want to be fed by the heat
That comes from fears overridden not
By staying somewhere in the middle,
Draining the feelings out of every sentence. I want
To be a vessel for the kind of dreams
That grow through even the worst decay —
But she never heard a word I said
As she sunk her head back into a pixelated wall
Further away than I could see. And that
Was the last I heard of her, for my phone never
Rang again. The apps stopped their pulsing for my attention
After I drowned the old thing in sugar and spice
And everything nice. The ants cling desperately
To the floor, the vacuum cleaner we bought
Isn’t strong enough to clear out
All this rot.
Dhiyanah Hassan is an artist, writer, and energy worker whose practice explores the relationships between art, storytelling, and healing. Her work seeks to connect the soul and soil of the internal worlds orbiting within us, finding transformative expressions of the wild, the mystical, and miraculous through artistic and multidisciplinary mediums, facilitating spaces and conversations where creativity is utilized as a catalyst for healing and trauma recovery. Dhiyanah’s poetry has appeared in sister-hood, OCCULUM, and Rambutan Literary. Website: http://www.bydhiyanah.com
Lucy Whitehead writes haiku and poetry. Her haiku have appeared in various international journals and anthologies and her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Amethyst Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Barren Magazine, Black Bough Poetry, Burning House Press, Collective Unrest, Electric Moon Magazine, Ghost City Review, Mookychick Magazine, Neon Mariposa Magazine, Pink Plastic House, Pussy Magic, Re-side, and Twist in Time Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @blueirispoetry.
The ghost of Guillaume Apollinaire writes on the walls of dilapidated buildings. His calligrams get lost amidst the strangest graffiti.
The ghost of Jane Austen wanders through the Roman baths at Bath. In the steam of time she glimpses people that fall in and out of love.
The ghost of J.G. Ballard watches airplanes coming in and out of Heathrow Airport. In the names of airlines he discerns a secret code.
The ghost of Roland Barthes writes love letters without recipient. He tears them into pieces in order to keep only certain fragments.
The ghost of Charles Baudelaire keeps on hiding from his creditors. He moves from loft to loft when he sees dust dancing in the sun.
The ghost of Felice Bauer likes to take long walks through empty streets. She wears a pair of small boots wet by the August rain.
The ghost of Samuel Beckett keeps looking for crossroads. In each one he sits down to wait for who knows what while he examines stones.
The ghost of Roberto Bolaño works at a closed down detective agency. He goes thoroughly through the files of all unsolved cases.
The ghost of Jorge Luis Borges walks up and down the corridors of enormous libraries. He looks for an encyclopaedia that describes the limbo he lives in.
The ghost of André Breton wanders slowly through flea markets. He searches for uneven objects to marry them in dreamy ceremonies.
The ghost of Max Brod rescues papers that are thrown into the fire. He reads them all trying to find the signs of a masterpiece.
The ghost of Italo Calvino hunts for old maps. With soft, deft fingers he draws new cities on top of beautiful ancient metropolis.
The ghost of Albert Camus goes to bars to watch soccer games. The screaming passion of the patrons makes him smile with nostalgia.
The ghost of Raymond Chandler takes advantage of the happy hour at melancholic bars. He orders gimlets even if they come in empty glasses.
The ghost of Agatha Christie specializes in tasting poisons. She writes down her opinions in a small notebook bound in the nineteenth century.
The ghost of Arthur Conan Doyle designs nets for hunting fairies. He tests them in ancient forests where silence is the one and only king.
The ghost of Julio Cortázar smokes blond tobacco by the side of the Seine. In the flow of the river he glimpses the hair of suicidal women.
The ghost of Simone de Beauvoir sits in her usual chair at the café Les Deux Magots. She flips through a book with only blank pages.
The ghost of Gérard de Nerval takes his lobster out for a walk when the day dies. Amidst the shadows the red pet keeps changing form.
The ghost of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa likes to go to seafood restaurants. He gets drunk on the different smells from the sea.
The ghost of Charles Dickens writes long love letters to the ghost of Ellen Ternan. He trusts in certain birds to deliver them.
The ghost of Marguerite Duras writes on a bench in a park covered with dry leaves. Her ideas materialize in Chinese characters.
The ghost of Sigmund Freud dusts his divan every afternoon. He sits on a chair in silent wait for a patient to knock gently at his door.
The ghost of Gabriel García Márquez stops beneath a storm of yellow butterflies. In the distance he sees the immortal glow of ice.
The ghost of Patricia Highsmith distrusts the calm of Switzerland. In the boats that cross the lakes she sees bloodstains.
The ghost of Christopher Hitchens argues against the existence of God. His audience are paintings of different divinities.
The ghost of Henry James explores vacant mansions. He calls dead children and servants by their names to keep him company.
The ghost of Milena Jesenská picks up letters from empty buildings. She looks for love stories hidden between the lines.
The ghost of James Joyce wanders lost through the streets of Dublin. He looks for guides that show the way to Molly Bloom.
The ghost of Franz Kafka hates insecticides. He tells himself that nobody knows which metamorphoses the night will bring.
The ghost of Pier Paolo Pasolini drives a silver convertible. He takes off his dark glasses to admire handsome young men smiling.
The ghost of Cesare Pavese haunts the house where Constance Dowling died. He keeps looking for the eyes of the actress.
“The Dead Sailors”
[A ghost story in 20 tweets]
1. The old port groans at midday. Dead sailors come out to watch the sun strike the waves. Eyes full of longing salt and terrible dreams.
2. Dead sailors get drunk on air and stale beer. Hands following routes drawn on forgotten maps. Voices hoarse with nostalgia and foam.
3. Dead sailors wait for the swirling mist to rise. “Something’s coming,” they whisper among themselves. Skin crawling with anticipation.
4. Dead sailors stare at a broken moon. Hoping it would give them a subject to speak of. Mouths agape with a thousand words unsaid.
5. Dead sailors dream of being alone at night. Dark waters around them like cold blankets. Fireflies swimming through the enormous silence.
6. Dead sailors walk slightly hunched over. Carrying the weight of gigantic invisible ships. Feet leaving prints full of muddy water.
7. Dead sailors usually get moonburned. Skin crawling under the light of a million distant stars. Air full of stinging bees of freshness.
8. Dead sailors like to read bedtime stories to themselves. Childhood memories shimmering in the shadows. Words floating like dark pollen.
9. Dead sailors pray for rain. Looking for dark, heavy clouds inside themselves. Palms turned up in order to feel drops caressing them.
10. Dead sailors watch the sun rise over the sea. Old songs pouring from their parched lips. Eyes blinking against the first light of the world.
11. Dead sailors collect messages in bottles. Never reading them but just staring at them. Hoping their content will be revealed in dreams.
12. Dead sailors have nightmares scorched by thirst. Waking up coughing in the middle of the night. Tongues filled with the taste of sand.
13. Dead sailors keep waiting for the flood. Hearts beating slowly in their sunken chests. The smell of imminent disaster in the air.
14. Dead sailors grow tired of staring at the ocean. Hands clutching rusty compasses and torn maps. Wind howling around them like a madman.
15. Dead sailors sing to attract sirens. Voices full of iodine and foam, longing and regret. Lyrics talking about forgotten languages.
16. Dead sailors bathe in moonlight. Hands massaging tired arms and feet. Ancient beads of sweat glistening like perfect diamonds.
17. Dead sailors walk backwards. Hairs at the nape of their necks bristling with fear. Distant footsteps getting closer and closer.
18. Dead sailors listen to old radio tunes. Ears pricked up to catch trembling voices of ancestors lost at sea between bursts of static.
19. Go with the flow, dead sailors pray. May it take you far away from home. End of the air or end of the sea. Whatever comes first.
20. Who rules the deep blue sea? dead sailors sing. Amidst the waves, amidst the storms, amidst the rage. Who rides the chilled wide sea?
Mauricio Montiel Figueiras (Guadalajara, Mexico, 1968) is a writer of prose fiction and essays, as well as a poet, translator, editor and film and literary critic. His work has been published in magazines and newspapers in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Italy, Peru, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He has been Resident Writer for the Cheltenham Festival of Literature in England (2003) and The Bellagio Study and Conference Center in Italy (2008). In 2012 he was appointed Resident Writer for the prestigious Hawthornden Retreat for Writers in Scotland. Since 1995 he lives and works in Mexico City. Since 2011 he has been working on a Twitter novel, The Man in Tweed, in part through the account @LamujerdeM. Instagram: mauricio_montiel_figueiras.