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Dialectical Ghost Lines

2011 January 12
by J. Scott Mosel

Vera. She taught me to see

while still in the womb,

how to read with unformed

eyes–I close them, and she is there,

a dialectic of alphabetic blood

and still in flow. She weaves letters

into puddles of light.

If she moves near you, in a dream,

her skin appears the color of Easter eggs.

She is fragile. Her lips are blue,

and there are tiny wrinkles on her ears.

She jots down notes about the future.


James. He appeared when I was shopping

at the west-side grocery in Athens, Ohio.

He said, “Hello Scott,” and kept going

down the aisle. I tried to follow him

but he had already passed the end-cap,

so I ran to the front without my cart

to cut him off, but he was out,

still there but gone, a little sprite

playing hopscotch with my soul.

He showed up a few years ago in photos

from Shenandoah National Park.

I knew it was him.

He was standing on a rock in a black suit,

and he had the look, the gaze that is long

and the eyes that change and look away,

like a season inside an iris with a storm pattern

that never settles. He likes to peel potatoes

wearing nothing but old socks.

The skin of his buttocks is wrinkled,

pressed white from sitting too long

on the old stool he brought from the barn.

He needs a haircut, his teeth are yellow,

and he quit going to church long ago,

which is why I know him.


Then there was Shol,

the one I met in San Salvador,

who came to teach me the truth

about Hell.

He came in the form of beauty,

a flower, la floripundia,

and at night its erotic scent

would drift into my window

and sit on my chest

until I was asleep.

Soon I was suspended over a hot

pit of black pitch and dipped

until each of my cells screamed in pain.

I could not hear them,

I felt them reach for salvation

and fail, fail as the last gurgle

of my lungs began to echo

off the walls to startle me from sleep.

Then its voice said

No, this is not a conversation.

Finish your poem.


2 Responses leave one →
  1. peg mosel permalink
    January 13, 2011

    Scott, I love this provocative interesting poem. I like all of them but James really got me.

  2. Joe Bastow permalink*
    January 13, 2011


    Marvelous character studies reaching into the sublimation of self and all its beauty and terror. Of course, the peeling of potatoes in only socks and the buttocks (nice play on socks), but then the barn stool and yellow teeth – reveals your photographic eye. Well done! Like the new look of the site as well! Need your tele # so as to reconnect soon!

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