You say you want to fight me? 
But think I'd rather not? 
Then listen to the story 
Of another guy I fought, 

And maybe you'll appreciate--
I don't like blood and dirt 
All smudgy on my fingertips 
And dripping down my skirt. 

A famous pirate captain 
By the name of Bloody Bill 
Was marching up the sidewalk 
On the old Spadina Hill. 

He had a sort of eye-patch 
That was caked and flaked in blood. 
And he ground his teeth together 
And he spat out bloody crud. 

He wore a bloody dagger 
In his muddy, bloody belt, 
And on his back I saw the track 
Of thirty bloody welts, 

And he slooshed his soggy boots 
Till blood ran down the hill; 
I figured, by the look of things, 
It must be Bloody Bill. 

And Bloody Bill was roaring drunk 
And Bloody Bill was loud 
And Bloody Bill was picking fights 
With people in the crowd. 

First I tried to walk around him 
Like a common passer-by; 
I'm quite a gentle person 
And I wouldn't hurt a fly, 

But Bloody Bill got wilder, like 
A bully and a crook, 
And by the way, I meant to say 
He had a bloody hook. 

He spied a frail old gentleman 
And seized him by the feet 
And shook him upside-down until 
His change rolled in the street, 

And then he pitched the gentleman 
Across a grotty sewer, 
And no one had the nerve to speak 
Severely to the boor. 

Now, I was out to buy some milk 
To take home to my Mum, 
But I could see I'd have to teach 
Some manners to this bum 

For pirates are a pleasure 
In the safety of a book, 
But meeting one is much less fun, 
Especially with a hook. 

And so I turned to face him, 
With a sigh of utter boredom, 
And flicked my little finger, and 
Immediately floored him. 

And holding back a yawn, I seized him 
By his smelly snout, 
And I flipped his nose, and flicked his toes, 
And turned him inside out, 

And wound him round a tree I found 
And beat with might and main, 
Till all the booze and tobacco juice 
Had had a chance to drain. 

(I know that bullies often come 
And boss around a kid. 
But that's the way I do things: 
So that's the thing I did.) 

I pelted him with melted cheese 
And fourteen deviled eggs; 
I tied spaghetti to his hair, 
Lasagna to his legs, 

And then, because I didn't like 
the way he'd used his fists, 
I danced upon his ears, until 
He asked me to desist. 

And when I turned him right-side-out 
He scuttled down the hill 
And never once looked back at me--
Just ran, did Bloody Bill. 

And me, I washed my fingers 
Of blood and scum and rum, 
And bought a quart of two per cent 
And took it home to Mum. 

So though I'd love to fight you, 
I am really very shy, 
And leaving you all black and blue 
Would likely make me cry. 

I don't want to turn you inside-out, 
Or wrap you round a tree: 
Why don't you take your strong right thumb 
And suck it peacefully?

From Garbage Delight, published by Macmillan Canada, 1977. Used with permission.

Although it no longer has a body
to cover out of a sense of decorum,

the ghost must still consider fashion—

must clothe its invisibility in something
if it is to “appear” in public.

Some traditional specters favor
the simple shroud—

a toga of ectoplasm
worn Isadora-Duncan-style
swirling around them.

While others opt for lightweight versions
of once familiar tee shirts and jeans.

Perhaps being thought-forms,
they can change their outfits instantly—

or if they were loved ones,
it is we who clothe them
like dolls from memory.

Copyright © 2015 by Elaine Equi. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 6, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

They didn't have much trouble
teaching the ape to write poems:
first they strapped him into the chair,
then tied the pencil around his hand
(the paper had already been nailed down).
Then Dr. Bluespire leaned over his shoulder
and whispered into his ear:
"You look like a god sitting there.
Why don't you try writing something?"

From Selected Poems, published by Wesleyan University Press. Copyright © 1991 by James Tate. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press. All rights reserved.