American Life in Poetry: Column 292

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Here’s our Halloween poem for this year, in the thin dry voice of a ghost, as captured by Katie Cappello who lives in Northern California.

A Ghost Abandons the Haunted

You ignore the way light filters through my cells,
the way I have of fading out—still
there is a constant tug, a stretching,
what is left of me is coming loose. Soon,

I will be only crumbs of popcorn,
a blue ring in the tub, an empty
toilet paper roll, black mold
misted on old sponges,

strands of hair woven into
carpet, a warped door
that won’t open, the soft spot
in an avocado, celery, a pear,

a metallic taste in the beer, a cold sore
on your lip—and when I finally lose my hold
you will hear a rustle and watch me spill
grains of rice across the cracked tile.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2009 by Katie Cappello, from her first book of poetry, Perpetual Care, Elixir Press, 2009. Reprinted by permission of Katie Cappello and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2017 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.