Published on Academy of American Poets (


                                   (tired and high-pitched)


Ghosts have been tied into the trees.
At dawn they pivot
In the wind slowly.

Where the moon windows in
I am of those
Who can’t stand it

Kept awake, humming with trucks
While anything lunar
Won’t rut, ruminates.  Overhead, uh-hunh

Days, the neighbor’s girl plays a game: what is?
What is dusk, she says, as the sky
ends it begins.

I play myself. What is death?  What’s poetry?  What
Is time?  Time needs no hanky, time blows by
the Kleenex flowers.  Or time’s

so slow, starry-cold, even is cold
            and sure, little admonishments.


Were you awake all night?

I was.  I was awake all night.


Copyright © 2014 by Kate Northrop. Used with permission of the author.

About this Poem

“I wrote a draft of this poem after taking my dog for a pre-dawn walk during which the predictable had looked strange, especially those ghosts that go up in the trees around Halloween.  I wrote the poem to get closer to those ghosts, to think through the image of them, although the speaker of the poem tries (unsuccessfully, I think) to get away from them.”

Kate Northrop


Kate Northrop

Kate Northrop is the author of Clean (Persea Books, 2011).  She teaches at the University of Wyoming and lives in Laramie, Wyoming. 

Date Published: 2015-02-03

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