Published on Academy of American Poets (

Ghost in the Land of Skeletons

                               For Russell Edson

If not for flesh's pretty paint, we're just a bunch of skeletons, working hard to deny the fact of bones. Teeth remind me that we die. That's why I never smile, except when looking at a picture of a ghost, captured by a camera lens, in a book about the paranormal. When someone takes a picture of a spirit, it gives me hope. I admire the ones who refuse to go away. Lovers scorned and criminals burned. I love the dead little girl who plays in her yard, a spectral game of hide and seek. It's the fact they don't know they're dead that appeals to me most. Like a man once said to me, Do you ever feel like you're a ghost? Sure, I answered, every day. He laughed at that and disappeared. All I could think was he beat me to it.


Copyright © 2011 by Christopher Kennedy. Reprinted from Ennui Prophet with the permission of BOA Editions.


Christopher Kennedy

Christopher Kennedy is the author of five poetry collections, including Clues from the Animal Kingdom (BOA Editions, 2018), Ennui Prophet (BOA Editions, 2011), and Encouragement for a Man Falling to His Death (BOA Editions, 2007), which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award. The recipient of a NEA Fellowship in Poetry in 2011, he is a professor of English and director of the MFA program in creative writing at Syracuse University in New York. 

Date Published: 2011-01-01

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