ghosts always come out better in black and white

This poem came out of the ekphrastic workshop we did at Crossroads Art Center last weekend, and was inspired
by the untitled piece by photographer Mel Talley above. To see more of the artist’s work, check out

“Koi grow exponentially to their surrounding, as artists do.”

There is a poem just outside
the frame of the photographer,
its filter heavy-lidded, its contours
soft-lit and stark. It is covered in a sheet
of memory, like a Hallowe’en costume,
dense and grainy and a little
sad. It has questions like

What regrets do you hold
by cobwebbed brass handles,
only half-wanting to let go?
What doors do you wish
you had left
open? What good is your strong left
arm against shadows, black
on black?

i remembered the fish
in the pond to the side
of the philosopher’s path,
orange and glowing. Then
i read this today, and
“Make no apologies for your breathing.”

There is no coyness
in creosote dreams.
(You cannot connect.)
The poem will laugh at you,
and still you will try
to catch it costumeless, naked.
Always fuck with windows
open. Always end with a jab….

4 thoughts on “ghosts always come out better in black and white

  1. ha….cool…i like those last two stanzas in particular…its a nice change of direction….whether intentional or not the use of coy (koi) in the last stanza plays off it cooly…the poem laughing as you try to catch it is a cool touch…i like it as almost a character…


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