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The Ground is Full of Ghosts
Poems and photos from Syracuse, part of a wider travel project and soon-to-be publication.
This July I returned to my hometown for the first time in seven years, and for the first time as an adult. Syracuse is a hot, sticky place to be in the middle of the summer. It can also be a lonely place — especially when I returned. School was out and it was a long weekend, which meant business was closed and the streets were empty save for the few families, nurses and international students who couldn’t leave.
And then there was me.
I came back to see the city I remembered full of life to be eerily quiet. As I walked around downtown I got to thinking about what it meant for me to be back. The meaning was laying there somewhere between each step. I kept on walking. I remembered that this is rust belt town.
Since returning to Toronto, I’ve been going through the photos and poems I gathered while on my travel project. My process of selecting and editing pieces has massively benefited from the image-text workshop I participated in online this summer (facilitated by Nancy Keefe Rhodes and organized by YMCA of Central New York’s Downtown Writers Center).
I’m currently selecting and editing pieces for a map-style zine to document the July travel project. It’s my hope that this zine puts into play what I outlined in the introduction essay to COUNTER-MAP: Poetics of Place — re-making the map by imbuing it with multiple meanings and open-ended uses. I’ll be in touch with a printer later this week or next to discuss material, format quantity and price, and I’m going to start thinking about how to fund the print run soon. Stay tuned : )
the ground is full of ghosts the streams drained are hollow the streets void are hollow, too the parks sit with their benches unpeopled here’s a figure without roving metal the earth quakes for no one the trees respire for the birds only the name of the sky goes unsaid
To be a poet is not to burn up on the midsummer street to test the Fates on their word nor to be good. This street was not built as a house for desire. My mind is still not made up. Sometimes to myself I think How could this possibly have come from that? (this being my body, that my city unpeopled)
I’m five foot eight inches tall on a good day and I’m walking and the pitch or the grade isn’t too steep but steep enough up a hill so I push my calves with my toes even though I don’t need to I think it might help carry myself higher and I’m nearing the place where I got caught in the cervix of my mother and I think what would I have thought about almost having died and I wonder why I’m not crying if this birthplace was yet a funeral and I wonder about that pond that swelled by the lake in the spring and if any child still sits there to ensure the dragonfly mate or the chipmunk scurry or the maples cast their shadow for at least one summer more and there I wonder about the fairgrounds, the malls and their pretzel shops’ saline aroma or the old blockbuster by the price chopper and I wonder if anyone else wonders about that too.
Who is the self and how to un-apologize to it? Does it stand out like how I think I like to?