Fred Gerhard: Four Poems for Haunted Passages

Haunted Passages: Fred Gerhard

Chill November

On a chill November afternoon
memory of color
clings to sky
like pitch dark twigs alive
reaching for a summer sun
long gone

a poorly dreamt expanse
of slate fog
pearly mist
far away and departing
our lives
our graves

leaves space for
autumn hymns in the
low quiet tone
that falling breezes
and hum

where we would go
before we let go
and throw
our shivering limbs alive
to the ghostly maw
of the year

Closest Thing

Could the night be any more secretive?
I don’t know.
I don’t know.

Could the day stand being repeated?
In a dream.
In a dream.

Could the ghost of empty hours
howl in the towers
of a night pulled to powers
pallid and torn?

“I could.

I could,”
came a voice
of someone speaking
at my ear.

“I could,”
from lips
out of breath,
very near.

“I could
make the night more hollow.

I could make the hallowed
ground slope from
the creek
and run a trickle
cold and dark
right down your soul
from your upturned tongue
to your feet,
embedded where you stand.

I could
collapse this night
with fear and hope.

I could.

I could if I wanted,
the light within.

I could,”

said the closest thing
to me.

Crossing the Dark Wing

I know the man who walks
these Victorian floors by night
in the insomnial dark              the other one
the conductor in black             the phantom
the golem

Sometimes he stares too long
at a window                   or a painting
and I catch a glimpse of him
and he of me                    standing
very still                        we don’t speak

I want only to retreat
perchance                        to live
avoiding his path
I cross the room             quick

granite counter
where I did not know it
could be                        in the pitch

dislodging             my hip
we pass

angel knuckles             swell
beneath a dark wing
I fold
in pain


When you died
The astonishing thing was
How present you were
And alive.
You followed me everywhere
Asking to dance, to go on long walks,
To brew tea,
To sit out on the porch in the May breeze
And listen to the bumble bees.
You slid between the blankets for a long nap
And bleary-eyed smiled to see me in the mid-
Afternoon when you awoke.
How did I become so loved by you
So late in the game?
And here you are picking out a soft cotton shirt
For me to wear.
I place my hands deep into the
Black and gray garden we plant today,
And feel for life
Deep in the cool dirt
As you comment on the salty smell of the
Sweat on my neck,
Laughing because you can’t get sun burnt,
And the blood is hot where I
Was once pale.

Fred Gerhard’s poetry has appeared in Entropy and Attachment. He lives in rural New England with his wife and son in a Victorian house of which people often ask, “Is it haunted?” 


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