…ghosts still resentful, ghosts far from home…

After Hwang Sok-Yong, The Guest


Mine are more benevolent, so I like to think,

though it may be Yankee reticence

that shuns the autopsy’s gutting,

an old eye impaling—

uncomfortable, that—for milder terms.


If they resent, they keep it close.

I tell Fred and Harry about the grandkids,

Fred’s great-great, and Harry’s great;

they try to smile their calcified lips


And for Uncle Philip,

how his medals finally came, and adorn my wall.

To the dead all talk is small.

To them it matters little what I say


talking to bones and scraps, words in the dark

though, for all that, if I were them—and I am—

I think I’d want to hear.


How many times have I made this trip

from mountains to town and back again

layering minutes on miles while the road which is the past

is swallowed in the mirror and another layer of future gets painted

under the wheels and I am only this plane of the present flat and thin

as a negative in black and white bearing this image

which keeps changing, changing and is nothing but same?

David Ackley lives and writes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. His work has recently appeared in Per Contra,  and over the long haul in journals including Prick of the Spindle; Camroc Press Review, where he was a 2015 Editor’s Choice honoree; Thrice Fiction and others.

Poems by David Ackley / Photograph by Kait Mauro



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