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Odd Memories

The ghost stands alongside his young daughter,
although she now appears to have grown a few
years older than what he remembers . . .

Something should be said to her, the ghost thinks,
but he doesn't know what, exactly, it is he
should convey; but he feels keenly the need

to say a few words, to teach her something
about life . . . but what? He watches her
mount her bike, then glide off from him

as smoothly as though she herself were a ghost;
instantly he is again by her side, and now they
whiz down the street, the macadam a gray blur

under the crazed carousels of her two wheels . . .
Should he say life is pain; or should it be life
is a wondrous calliope of pleasure? Both and

neither are true, and he sees he cannot protect
her from either. He watches her take pleasure
from the wind kissing her cheeks, then understands

she is really good at being a human; in the end this
is the thought he moves into her mind -- odd memories
being the only way a ghost can talk to breathing ones --

as he watches her sail off into the rest of her life. The ghost
thinks she does a much better job at living than what he
had managed, as the bike flips over the sad, sad horizon.

- Ward Kelley
 

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Culpable Oversights
 

I had no need of wisdom,
even less of virtue . . .

it was beauty I wanted,
and not a single cell

of my flesh called out
for knowledge . . .

it was beauty I wanted,
but nature had other

designs. I had no need
of this body, yet here

it is. I have no need
of any of it, until

I think I might
forfeit.
 

Artist's note:

Will and Ariel Durant (1885-1981 and 1898-1981) wrote in "The History of
Civilization," that "It is one of the most culpable oversights of nature that virtue a
and beauty so often come in separate packages."

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Come This Life
 

Come this life, strike it hard,
pound and pound the ingredients
of the poem, to wound the heart
of this assassin life, this pagan

who would squeeze the very
fibers of my ill-prepared body;
come this life, carve its eyes
and try to deflect it from its

intent to whittle away the very
skin of my ill-suited body who
thinks to run and run as though
it could write a poem to say

right to the face of life, come,
come, deliver to my frailty your
keenest blow, for in the end I
have an end, and the poem has

taught me that this is all only an act
of refinement, come this life who
knows the brutish affliction of bones
and boils, I shall be freed, in the end.

- Ward Kelley

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