The Ghost of William Shakespeare Speaks to His Old Body

The worms have fed on blood, the dust has dried
The canticles of flesh, and time has coughed
On the brown marble of my throat. I died
But once. In that deaf fall down to the soft
Ice of extinction or to excrement
In the earth’s tripe and carbon where a smell
Of former spirit haunts a firmament
Of coal, I’m free of Shakespeare’s body and
His world, of heaven his unnatural dream
Against biology, of phoenix blood
His talking ink, and hover in a land
Invented constantly like sun or hell
Or love. But I’m in you. Like new spring mud,
Alive in you who make my maggots gleam. 

From Mexico In My Heart: New And Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2015) by Willis Barnstone. Copyright © 2015 by Willis Barnstone. Used with the permission of the author.