This Room Has a Ghost by Stephanie Goehring

This Room Has a Ghost (cover)The poet writes biographies in small sections of an arc, lucid-dreams, and slings moons and tongues like a short-order cook. She plays teeth as if they were keys on a piano left out in the rain. If she starts sententious, she ends with a phonographic spiral into a language of clicks. If she starts silly, we all end up together on a flight of missing stairs, growing wings as rapidly as we can. Every word is an origin, says she who wants to be called Ophelia and who looks for wrong in all the love places:

Even with the turbid fog I shouldn’t
look at the sun but I do and briefly
a yellow ellipse is burned everywhere
you used to be.
(“Ophelia When I Burn”)

She lets others — wasps, god, a fungus — do the remembering; her job is to dismember and make love to open wounds.

This is where the birds come to die,
heads sideways on the concrete
like little sleeping men.
(“Because We Call It a Vulture”)

Poems of deep play take greater risks than the safer kind, especially since most American readers have a bad habit of mistaking play for work.

When George Washington said he couldn’t tell a lie, his father should’ve taught him how.
(“Biography of a Carpenter in Nine Degrees“)

And how! It’s like the siren tells her:

“I’m not a liar;
I make confessions that aren’t mine.”
(“No. 2”)

This of course is hardly endemic to sopranos. Ghosts can be stillborn, and can pass through poems as easily as moonlight or hummingbirds, though they generally choose to be more circumspect. Authorship sits heavily, one suspects, like coins on the eyelids of someone taken for dead:

I want to touch you with my eyelashes.
(“Biography of a Body in Twelve Degrees“)

The poet appears to believe in the interchangeability of trees and atoms. She drowns the ocean in her dreams like a sack of soft onions.

When Pandora opened the box, she was only looking to crawl inside.
(“Biography of an Actress in Twelve Degrees“)

I wish I knew Braille so I could read this book with my eyes shut.

I’m reading a book a day for Poetry Month, but I’m also hoping some folks will join me and fellow poet-blogger Kristin Berkey-Abbott to read just four of those books. Details here.

6 Replies to “This Room Has a Ghost by Stephanie Goehring”

    1. My pleasure. I was rather severely sleep-deprived last night, so couldn’t muster the energy for a more analytic review, but creative responses are more fun anyway, I think.

  1. After reading this review, I followed the links..I live in Thailand & doubt the English language bookstores have a copy, I will have to order a copy. I really like this.

    1. There are a few journals that review chapbooks, but not many. I continue to feel that their slightness is often an advantage over full-length collections; I don’t know why and how it was decided that a book of poetry had to be 75-100 pages long to attract notice. The contents of most such collections are almost always divided into three or four sections, often thematically or stylistically unified, which I think suggests the true default length of a cycle of lyric poems.

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