Haunted Passages: Five Poems by Scott Ferry

Haunted Passages:
Scott Ferry

this is a poem about the fish on the dock

whose mouth gasps a 0 as it tries to breathe
and my son stares at it and jumps when it kicks

against the wood and he makes his mouth into a 0
then closes 0 then closes i say don’t touch it

and i don’t say it is dying that it is struggling
that this is how the dark corners of your room

feel when you wake up and we are no longer
holding you and all the air leaves and you

are unable to move until you get up
and find the open door down the

long hallway to the room
where warm mouths will

breathe you in and
all light will


you know when you start writing poems about poems

that you have driven off the map
you ask google to take you to the ocean
and it demands sandcrabs in gull language
before it tells you anything

when you have gone this far the edges
of your clothes drip spiders on magnetic threads
when the trees crawl circumspect by the shady lake
whisper to the small beasts in the holes

when the mountains gnaw at their reflections
in your occipital lobe then you know you are asleep
in a reverse uvula a gap where there should be skin
and the winds caress every limp cilia

when the hands you see touching the letters
are dirty or as blistered as a gila monster’s god
then you can wash the rodents but there are no places
to sing in this hallway and get back in line anyway

there will be a complementary beheading
if you fall in love 

when the poem isn’t ready to fight

i walk into the ring wearing a weaponized nostalgia
like a cloak of bats but my opponent is sleeping

the sea is now a school bus and the seats anemone
and eel as we try to kiss

(my mother does not remember that i have two
children but she is overjoyed when reminded)

my mother is at the bus stop wearing a polaroid hairdo
my mother holds me so i cannot reproduce

my breathing machine scares the cat but she still
smothers me as i weave a cloak of bats in my sleep

i have a fight tonight my mother is there watching
thinking i am still twelve that i have not loved

anyone but her she wants to know who i am
going to die for

i scream to the captain but he can’t hear me

his shoes snap like rattraps
and the soup is cold

he keeps repeating the numbers
of his social like it is a poem

but the icecaps sing too loud for the sirens
to pull him closer and regardless he is chained

to a teleprompter and where are my pants?
(i knew it was me all along)

i can’t read what i am supposed to say
and the choir vomits off the starboard side anyhow

the bible is barnacled to the ache of history
the sermon is an almost edible hemorrhage

god is the wind they say not the whale
nor the hunger inside of the whale

the backstory with the killing and the smiting
is really too long i didn’t ask to be saved

i just need (take this down):
dry socks a coffee an embrace from her

a polite audience of flightless birds
a long hissing sleep under the wilds of the world

did you hear, kitty ghosty?

my naked toddler son says to
the cat as he approaches

her on the bed and i want to know
what was supposed to be heard?

what news can we receive from the
unclothed who can see through the veil?

what news from the unbodied felines
purring in the ether?

are there signs pointing to a rapture
or a great sleep? is there time

for this seer to reach 100 summers
dozing into autumns?

what news from my father?
at least give him a knowing nod

(he is the strangely familiar man
on your ceiling gently brushing

your closed eyes) what news from
the naked light behind lids?

from the feast? from the place
where tears and laughter begin

and end?

Scott Ferry helps our Veterans heal as a RN in the Seattle area. His latest book, The Long Blade of Days Ahead, is now available from Impspired Press. More of his work can be found on ferrypoetry.com.

Image: newyorker.com

Check out HFR’s book catalog, publicity list, submission manager, and buy merch from our Spring store. Follow us on Instagram and YouTube.