“What I wanted to do was figure out a way to give voice to those ghosted people –the protesters, the students who had been killed. [I think about] the trope of the ghost as a social figure, as a subjectivity that isn’t allowed to have a voice, as someone who is in an in-between space, but someone who still hasn’t entirely disappeared… Voices that haven’t been allowed to speak in some kind of official history that stands in the record books.”
– From a conversation with Pimone Triplett
Hungry ghost altar (Attribution: Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, Festival of the Hungry Ghosts)
Here and there look down at your body’s
visibles and vapors. If split half and half,
legs astraddle the many persons (quick, dead)
countries (old, new), powers (super, higher),
could be uncurbed longing to belong’s
been on a long time. That craving becomes all
the rage walled off from answer, comes
whelmed in needy wilds of specter-life,
quietsided. Can’t avoid being voided by boxes,
categories’ design, rubbing raw these our scrawny
necks. Or breaking throat’s throughway
into frayed yesses of yon cassius has a lean
and hungry deficit-loaned demeanor.
Our national debt a not-yet forgiven
dependency and yon cassius has he who has
cassius come round to his so-called home.
If, like us, what defines you at the waist
is wasting away, should you get straight up
addicted to place and its weirding promises,
you can always shoot into your arm more dreams
with capital D’s, big box histories, super stores
selling befores. Also the borders called Dutch French
Spanish Brit or US-backed anti -communist -immigrant
-refugee -illegal -kingkiller –chaosclimber all to make you
declare something at customs, whatever ghosty cravings
might unsire cash-direct desire. Once, a mother
country birthed her babies backwards.
Pangs got borne into colonies, life-support.
Also, a fetus shed too soon makes for the mind’s
damage-map of dopamine shakily etched
on empire. When so many blank-aholics,
hell bent on rice wine mouthwash
razor slash paint fume, can’t jumpstart
the gobsmacked heart, and your low level
of serotonin is showing as a single
ball that rolls down a sandlot slowly,
then you know scrimmage of appetite’s all over.
Be sure which belly is yours in the bloat.
“Hungry Ghosts,” published in The Seattle Review as a different version, reprinted by permission of the author.