Michael H. Brownstein


I. How to Get a Ghost to Move Out of Your House

Do not bite a ghost. They are chalk
And have no taste. You can add sage, salt,
Pepper, even garlic. It will make no difference.
Do not clean everything everyday.
Ghosts are blindsided by dust in light.
They cannot stand camouflage or invisibility,
But remember to remove all of the cobwebs.
Ghosts are collectors of spiders and flies.
If these rules are not enough,
Go on living. Forget about them.
They will move someplace else.
Ghosts have an obsession to be remembered.

II. Sleeping with Ghosts

Some Sundays they dream in nightmare
And other nights dark and light,

A shimmer of shadow against white walls,
Cold fingered and cold breath,

A simple outlook and a simple memory
In need of a following.

They are generous creatures by habit
Willing to share covers, curtains, and wind

But never sheets or pillows.

III. You Can Stop a Ghost at Its Birthing

Place a mask over the dead man’s face.
Leave it there for others to find.
No matter what do not turn back,
But listen for the thunder.
Always listen for the thunder.

IV. A Room for a Ghost

The dog always knows when something is not known,
The room empty of everything but thought,
A wisdom to shade—heat—an August evening.
This is the house of ghosts. A dog does not live here.
Nor do small children, new calves, kittens,
A parakeet under the fabric over its cage.
We are the brave species and we have to understand
Living is of consequence. You cannot forgive
What you cannot comprehend. Leave
The shape of dust to the sun and air, the fog
In the mirror to its weight and substance,
The change in temperature to a breaking down
Of beams, hardwood flooring, the sudden
Curve of wall covering in an empty space.

V. How to Eat a Ghost

Hunger has nothing to do with it.

Michael H. Brownstein has been published in numerous small press and literary magaaines, has a half dozen chapbooks including the winner of the Omation Press Chapbook Contest way back in 1988, and is looking for a publisher for his new collection, I ONCE WAS A SCHOOL TEACHER. He recently retired from teaching intermediate and upper grade science in the inner city of Chicago.

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