Ghosts I Have Come To Know

Many an admired ego
I have come to know
in a charity store or
in the back corner
of a library nary
that fresh or airy,
smelling the years
and reading the smears
of each rifling finger
to swipe, to linger
upon the pages
throughout the ages.
I met Robert Frost
at such little cost,
that it seemed a crime,
despite the grime
and a dried spider
on the side, here,
trembling with each poem
that I show him
of birches and Pan,
of pastures and Man;
the creature was shaken
with the road not taken
and the eager chainsaw
with the hungry jaw.
And here is Tennyson,
that esteemed denizen
whose words are portals
for such mortals
that would dare the gleam
of a wizard’s dream—
Shalott’s far tower,
whose mirrored power
was but a constant curse
known to weavers of verse,
as well as the eagle
(so poised and regal)
and the Kraken of the deep
waking from sleep.
William Butler Yeats
has met me at many gates;
he is the lock master
and the symbol caster,
his many softback selves
standing stiffly on many shelves,
opening their dusty words
to speak of prophetic birds
circling a frightful Sphinx
while wary mankind sinks
into the desert sands
of blood-dimmed lands.
And I have also met
with many among a set
who were as one collected
while they fondly reflected
as in a soiree,
talking together all day
in whispery pages,
the secretive sages
willing to share
each thought and care.
Rumi condescended to chat
about this and that
and Browning was profuse
in his usual manner—obtuse;
Wordsworth spoke
of pleasant peasant folk
while Blake had fits
due to his jittery wits;
Byron was refined
(for a lecherous mind),
and Shelley swooned
as if be-mooned.
By happy happenstance
I have happened to chance
upon many such ghosts
from among paper hosts,
and in this fateful way
they have come to say
that I should enjoy this life
despite the woes and the strife—
they beautify it as fair and fine
with every haunted line.

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