Stirring : A Literary Collection

Preston Mark Stone


All I have is a city of ghosts
dreaming theyre alive.
When I was first alone, theyd knock

and Id let them in, watch them
sheepishly walk to the kitchen
and place their clammy mouths

under the tap.
Its terrible to watch the dead drink.

Now, having been alone for years,
they know what to expect:
they no longer knock, just stumble in

dragging their luggage behind them,
turning all the lights on as they go.
Even the kindest of them track dirt

everywhere, and the meaner ones,
with their toe tags and crooked jaws,
have broken all my mirrors.

To escape the shouting
I go to the kitchen, push through
the gulping dead, fill a pot

with water, and make rice.
Suddenly the house is silent
and the pot has an audience,

the plosives of steam followed
by dozens of cold, wide eyes.
I never would have guessed it:

the dead are fascinated by rice.
Its something about the sound
or the smell, the grain softening

like bone returning to flesh.
What are you doing? they ask.
Where did you learn that?

Is it alive? I learned this
from my mother, I tell them.
And yes, its alive.

As I eat I watch them timidly
hunch away, afraid
of my living mouth. They think

Im some sort of cannibal,
a ghost who eats earth.
One or two of them touch my chest,

feel the tentative pumping
of my heart, and begin to weep.
By morning Im sweeping up

broken glass and splinters,
and the house has returned
to its old loneliness.

Now, all I have is rice.
I cook to remember that I am alive.
I eat to return to the living.

Preston Mark Stone
Date of Birth: 7/4/73
Location: Fargo, North Dakota / Baltimore, Maryland
Publications: Sniper Logic, Agnieszka's Dowry, Stirring V1:E2, V1:E3, V2:E2, etc.
Awards: National League for Innovation Poetry Award

Stirring : A Literary Collection

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