The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Smaller Ghosts by Jennifer Moore

This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from Smaller Ghosts by Jennifer Moore, a book of centos released by Seven Kitchens Press in 2020. 

At first a slight unsteadiness:

call it fear of thieves. An air
of sifting possibilities,

like smoke spiraling
before memory intrudes.

There are rooms I won’t enter.
This is as far as I go.

There, where the staircase
stops short, find me:

indecisive thing, all this reckless
tenderness, hiding my face

in my hands. Eventually
we are all asked,

Did you choose this?
The moon rising down

the yellow hallway?
This secret dark, a stolen cigarette?

Ghost, you’re a fool to think
you can bargain with a burning house.

Source texts (for all book poems): Claribel Alegría, “Rain,” Rae Armantrout, “Unbidden,” David Barber, “To the Trespasser,” Emily Berry, “This spirit she,” John Berryman, “Not to Live,” Frank Bidart, “The Ghost,” Linda Bierds, “The Ghost Trio,” Lucie Brock-Broido, “How Can It Be I Am No Longer I,” Emily Dickinson, [“One need not be a chamber”], [“The Zeroes—taught us—Phosphorus”], John Donne, “The Apparition,” Timothy Donnelly, “Globus Hystericus,” Carolyn Forché, “The Ghost of Heaven,” “Sequestered Writing,” Lola Haskins, “Patsy Sees a Ghost,” Mary Hickman, “Visionary Elegies,” Cynthia Huntington, “Ghost,” Mark Irwin, “Ghost,” Christopher Kennedy, “Ghost in the Land of Skeletons,” Dan Lechay, “Ghost Villanelle,” Dana Levin, “Ghosts That Need Reminding,” Vachel Lindsay, “The Spider and the Ghost of a Fly,” Robert Lowell, “The Ghost,” Nathaniel Mackey, “Ghost of a Trance,” Carl Marcum, “Cue Lazarus,” Paul Mariani, “Ghost,” Sarah Messer, “Prayer from a Mouse,” Eric Pankey, “Epitaph,” “Restless Ghost,” Elise Paschen, “Ghost, Fountain,” Carl Phillips, “Ghost Choir,” Edgar Allan Poe, “Lenore,” Lisa Sewell, “Letter from a Haunted Room,” William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Wallace Stevens, “A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts,” Keith Waldrop, “The Ghost of a Hunter,” Afaa Michael Weaver, “The Appaloosa,” Dara Wier, “Blue Oxen.”

Jennifer Moore was born and raised in Seattle. She is the author of Easy Does It (2021) and The Veronica Maneuver (2015), both from the University of Akron Press, and a chapbook of centos, Smaller Ghosts (Seven Kitchens Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, Bennington Review, Interim, The Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. An associate professor of creative writing, she currently serves as Director of the School for the Humanities and Global Cultures at Ohio Northern University and lives in Bowling Green, Ohio.


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