1. Advice for ghosts


Stop hesitating.

Stop putting it off by flossing your teeth.

Press your bare shoulder against your cheek.

Feel it’s warmth and remember that you’re alive.

Most days, you are nothing but a mirror.

But for now there is solid (not quaking) ground beneath your feet

and you reflect the most honest of missteps.

For now

you are more than eraser shavings.

Probably not, but the thought gives you butterflies.

Maybe you’re in love.

This is how you shuffle down hallways:

like the victim of a natural disaster.

Of tsunami’s and of acid rain.

You conjugate your verbs, decline your nouns,

and forget to clip your finger nails so

you leave them on the doorstep or in a basket by the river.

Most days, you remember your dreams

like flash floods or flash backs of suppressed memories.

There is no one to tell them to so

they die and melt and burn;

sizzle and dissolve in stomach acid or joint fluid.

2. Broken Umbrellas

They speak of memories, progress, and calculations but

you’d rather think of art in it’s purest form.

Heads down on desks, we are

up and around in clumps, maybe, or on number lines,

looking like mice and trying to hide.

Charismatic only in the smallest of spaces.

Wrap me up in sheets and sheets

because I keep on having dreams where

I mistake you for strangers and broken umbrellas.

3. For you, who doesn’t talk.

Little deaths of pointers and pinkies that fit in your pocket. That moment when you realize that shoes don’t have anything to do with feet and you need a ruler, a straightedge, to keep your shoulders in line because you’re a hoarder of minutes and of hours when you felt like you existed and when you stretch them out over days to keep from disappearing you are a tightrope walker but most days you are trapped within the pulpy skin of milk cartons. Most days your vision is gripped by sheets of lined paper and you lose yourself in the contours of their faces. You find pieces of yourself in their trash (empty paper bags like featureless puppets) and, in the nervous fidgeting of pens and fingers, you find repose.

4. Friday nights

I like to watch them drink their drinks:

Vodka poured from glass to aluminum.

Don’t throw stones,

don’t fold up your bones.

At least not yet, not now

when winter’s pulse is much too hard to find

and our throats are peeling

and our toenails have grown dim and blue.

Now that I’ve forgotten the cats cradle

and how to braid my fingers through

those shredded shoe laces,and

stretch myself out and into

the arms of somebody warm.

“Jumping tastes so good,”

they tell me with muddled eyes and

lucid smiles and

beads around their wrists.

I hug myself hug myself hug myself.

5. Solstice

People look into her

eyes like chopping down trees.

She tries to find a comfortable skin to crawl into

(freckles and kneecaps),

the husk of a familiar longing.

Daylight savings has her fidgeting,

painting gluttony on the walls because

she never feels more herself than

when the water is trickling

(down down)

(rainy days she spends in space).

But for the most part

she’s an amputee

never trusting her own lips or ears.

Her body betrays her and she strings

sacrifices and sympathy into necklaces,

Jewelry she sells like


or saltines to settle her stomach

(on ferries and trains and after panic attacks.)

The only way she knows how to love people is with her eyes

as if there are ghosts

inside her that

have something to say.

If you looked close enough

perhaps you’d see her

mantra tugging at

the corners of her lips:

you are here you are here you are here.

Annie Loucka
Age 15, Grade 10
Bard High School Early College
Gold Key

Leave a Reply