The Body Ghost

The Body Ghost

by Joseph Lease

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Overview

"Promise me the rich can’t sleep," Joseph Lease begs in The Body Ghost , offering poems as light on the page as nursery rhymes, and as powerful as prayer. Here, verse conjures up the body in pain, the body politic in collapse, and the tensile strength of the filaments that connect us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781566895118
Publisher: Coffee House Press
Publication date: 06/05/2018
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 773,856
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Joseph Lease's critically acclaimed books of poetry include The Body Ghost (Coffee House Press, forthcoming in 2018), Testify (Coffee House Press, 2011), and Broken World (Coffee House Press, 2007). Lease has received The Academy of American Poets Prize and numerous grants and awards in poetry and poetics from Columbia University, Brown University, Harvard University, and California College of the Arts. He is a Professor of Writing and Literature at California College of the Arts and a member of the Advisory Board of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Ritual

1

the light that's burning every second now —
say moon, say ink, say stay in love — and eyes are masks and masks are eyes — say moon,
say ink, say stay in love


2

once more I smell the dew and rain — the light that's burning everything — the elegies are taking off their clothes — say moon, say
ink, say stay in love


3

and some guy screams on Christmas Eve —
his eyes like rain, his face like ice — and weave a circle round him thrice — we drink to death, we smear the sky — soft wind — the soul beneath the soul beneath the soul —


4

he fell apart, he rained, he flew, he sang —
and some guy screams on Christmas Eve —
we drink to death, we smear the dark — blue wind — his stain of faded storm light in my mouth —

CHAPTER 2

Mercy

1

pink streaks,
sky, pink streaks, branches — buildings turn purple — the wind sings the moon —
the moon sings the wind — all the words,
all the worlds, in one face —


2

one story — the boy and the wren — the wren and the night — the face in the house — your lips slip the night — your face slips your eyes — your eyes slip your yes — love like flying —


3

where is your kiss — who is your night —
smile painting, smile sacred arcs of rain — O taste, O taste and see — I can't believe we've come to this — you rose — I can't believe —


4

and all the words — all the hands — you dream me — dream me there — soft mist,
soft kiss — mend the world — maybe it's possible — what do you know — what do you taste: vodka, ice, soft air, soft air —
your hands — what if I worship you —
your life is real —


5

tonight — what's that — your voice, your wing — tonight can sing tomorrow's ring — arc, arc me the secret — your gaze, soft moon — you go so deep — your sound, your sound — you go so deep —

CHAPTER 3

Night

Night

does he like bombs, does he like masks — please breathe my newsflash, my eyes don't fit —
sound gives life — death's sound too —
before you broke me I thought I was free:
sinful but free —


Night

breathe me morn and mourn me when:
everything said the house: death said the house, the house said death, death said everything:


Night

I tore the page — I tore up the page — I had to,
I had to — make words — the truth slipped — I touched it — vodka to hoping, hoping to open,
roses and glisten — listen and listen —


Night

so run around like daydreams, tear up maps — democracy is anybody's eyes — to lie, to lie, to lie, to lie —
please breathe my newsflash, my eyes don't fit —


Night

so run around like daydreams, tear up maps — democracy is anybody's eyes — to lie, to lie, to lie, to lie —
please breathe my newsflash, my eyes don't fit —


Night

I was kissing what you wrote: and you were lost and found, and you were trains and rings: lights, camera,
courage:


Night

just breathe night, breathe night forever — just say drop your eyes right here — "quick, learn to die" — I'm dancing — I'm praying — I'm breathing —
I'm nothing — I'm snow — I'm falling — pigeons fight for chicken wings —


Night

lights, camera, courage: I was kissing what you wrote — each peaches, each amazing, each: so always, so yes, so never say never, so always, so yes, I want to believe:

CHAPTER 4

The Body Ghost

I tore the page,
I tore up the page

you give me love because you give me love: you give me up because you give me up: the light is real because the real is light: the real is light because the light is real:
any purple day: the world is gone,
the world is back:

and to your scattered bodies go

bless anyone bless anyone all night I was your hair

CHAPTER 5

The Body Ghost

property is death: they had a body crammed in a mailbox and it was just a blue suit with bones sticking out — and fathers lost in blowing snow —
and mothers drift in blowing leaves — and all the lies in any town — work was my salvation, he said,
work was always my salvation

branches you joy can scream

ice and the river —"the desire to be normal is healthy":
no, it isn't — can you imagine the death of the wind —
can you remember the ghost of that voice —

your kisses your sky your darkness your sky

lavender sky, sky like whiskey — the way, the way we live in bodies — lavender sky, sky like whiskey —
and to your scattered bodies go — your dream inside your face, your night inside your morning — I'll try to glint like birds behind the rain —

CHAPTER 6

Rent Is Theft

Rent Is Theft

this sky is your sky this sky is my sky —"Dear God let there be gas let there be cash and soft voices"


Rent Is Theft

hide me among the graves: the city, the wind, the banks:
"you just want to die I mean capitalism just wants to kill you I mean you just want and you just want" —


Rent Is Theft

"we made this sky of drones to eat your voice" —
"the sky is money, privatize the sky" —
your ocean dies, and Google buys the sun inside your name —


Rent Is Theft

they had a body crammed in a mailbox and it was just a blue suit with bones sticking out —


Rent Is Theft

you didn't, you did: just keep shopping —
eyes was I, dawn breaking, earth breathing:
just say missiles, just say drones: frack,
baby, frack: my eyes are made of cash and going broke


Rent Is Theft

we never drove the blue car through the stars:

we always drove the blue car through the stars:

we never guessed the dream we never guessed:

we always guessed the dream we always guessed:

today we fight like gods, today we fight for gods,

how much is that ahi in the window,

here you are, here we are, no mercy,
no future, lots and lots of turkey sausage,

death tangles, death shakes, death breakfast served all night,

death tangles, death shakes,

death-flavored ice cream, deathberry gum —


Rent Is Theft

so run around like daydreams, tear up maps —
democracy is anybody's eyes — feel like you might have, might have,
killed someone:


Rent Is Theft

you didn't, you did: just keep shopping —
and promise me the rich can't sleep —
and promise me the rich can't sleep —


Rent Is Theft

please please please be ironic — we left our freedom in "American" mouths, we broke our freedom in "American" words —
you run around like daydreams, tear up maps, democracy is anybody's eyes —


Rent Is Theft

we left our freedom in "American" mouths,
we broke our freedom in "American"
words — tell me — will I spark — in this light, expensive light — did you pray —
did you beg — for days like these —


Rent Is Theft

wake up, you're not the truth — and,
and, and, and — I, I, I, I — might have,
killed someone: you didn't, you did:
eyes was I,


Rent Is Theft

just keep shopping — I could've been one hundred years of war,
I could've been one hundred years of peace: frack, baby,
frack: my eyes are made of cash and going broke

CHAPTER 7

Lights Out

and what you want is what you want
(not really), and what you

want is what you want
(till Tuesday),
and where you go

is where you went
(forget it),
and coffee tastes like evidence
(don't let it):

and holy is as holy does,
and holy tastes like ruby walls, and rivers paint

you wind and snow,
and houses you will never know —

CHAPTER 8

Stay

"when I squeeze your hand I'm squeezing her hand"

his mother in the room —
his mother's me —

He's dying —
He's dying —
He's asking Why I
Love Him —

"when I squeeze your hand I'm squeezing her hand"

the whiskey on the table, the rabbits in the yard at night —

my father rain becoming rain rain becoming rain

"even when I don't see you, I'll see you"

He's dying —
He's dying —
He's asking Why I
Love Him —

his stain of faded storm light in my mouth:

CHAPTER 9

They Body Ghost

someone scatters

someone's body:

ashes,
ashes,
let's fall

down,
just some hours and just some clown,
now you

eat your spiderweb,
now you dance inside your bed,

go and go and go ahead:
"and may

the wind that killed you slide you home" —

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The Body Ghost"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Joseph Lease.
Excerpted by permission of COFFEE HOUSE PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

• Title Page,
• Copyright,
• Dedication,
1. Ritual,
2. Mercy,
3. Night,
4. The Body Ghost,
5. The Body Ghost,
6. Rent Is Theft,
7. Lights Out,
8. Stay,
9. The Body Ghost,
• Acknowledgments,
• Funder Acknowledgments,
• About the Author,

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