ghosts

Listening for ghosts is dangerous. The angry dead crave a reckoning, an enfleshment that will or might return them to a different form of unbeing. What it is to desire a ghostly body. What it is to desire ghostliness.

I’ve been standing in grit-bearing wind
listening for traveling whispers

The angry dead are hungry. Not for the ghostliness of former enfleshments, but for something more than was available, something more than was promised, something more.

The hungry dead are writing,
feeding on your sleep,
borrowing your dreams

*
Place your ear on a termite hill—the hungry dead will speak to you. Place your hand in a mole hill—the angry dead will touch you. Put your fingers through the bars of a lion-bearing cage—the traveling dead will enflesh you.

Sit in a metal basin filled with green-dyed water, hold a pen filled with purple ink, learn to trace characters on green banana leaves. Smear ghee on your left hand, encase your right hand in cow dung, scratch the small of your back with charred bone you have stolen from a crematorium. Make a circle of dead, pink carnations—fill it with the blood from a thousand mosquitoes. And then swallow your rage. Swallow your rage until it forms a ball in your stomach. Swallow your rage until your bones dissolve. Swallow your rage until your flesh pulses like thick porridge. Swallow your rage until you fly apart.

*
hold a still-burning twig from a forest fire—whisper your dreams into its smoke
*
stand on the edge of a dying river—watch your myths die
*

lie down in the path of siafu—
stay

*
break your favorite earthenware pot, sprinkle the shards with crushed egg shells, spit on a snail’s slime five times, bless all bruised flower petals, stand under a defecating crow, capture an ibises cry

slice an unripe avocado, bury its stone in your sacred spaces

throw ash into the seven directions of the death-bearing wind

become diaphanous

harvest moth dust—do not harm moths, they are sacred

befriend a wood-eating ant, comb a maize cob’s hair
*
sell your dreams to the angry dead, give your visions to the hungry dead, lose your ability to forget

chant the names of the unnameable—do not sleep until they are all said

learn the flavor of mass graves, suck on blood-infused stones

tattoo the cries of those burned to death on your tongue

harvest dead flesh with a pumice stone, prepare a soup to guide your footsteps, follow a wandering red ant, grasp its pincers, bow to every scorpion you meet, leave offerings for slender spiders—do not ignore geckos

harvest leaves from every plant with a streak of red in its veins, squeeze aloe onto the wounded plants, build a tree of names, tie wind-harvested feathers on its slender branches—they will listen for the speaking dead, the crying dead, the unforgetting dead

listen
listen
listen
listen
listen