Ordinary Phenomena
"All we can do is to suggest general principles
as underlying the known phenomena"

—Phoebe Bendit, This World

If heat leaves traces,
an old house haunted
closed with psychic screws,
foothold created or left behind
(a death)
remains a strong picture.

How carefully a door
always open following
morning               or maybe
locked between                the harmless haunt
and the one harmful      changes its tone.

No matter.

The mind can split itself
shed its contents
and leave them behind—
a part of itself there
as one might leave a cloak
or ring where it has been.

—a murder, a death, a lover's parting—
electrical waves.          What becomes a ghost?

If heat leaves traces,
let us say heat.

After a death    the body
this go-between, discarnate intermediary
delivers the message—                play detective, receive
for real value
(a holy control)
This comfort    drawn toward  the mouth,
dearest              enlightened minority,
wise spirit          seeks signs, deliver curious.

This is a movement.

Assess probabilities      exposé founded on so frail
a structure          any skeptic      a blasphemer
of holy things.
All this may be entirely true.

Let us assume a medium, surrendering
in the terror of       a problematical aftermath

born of apparitions   from the posthumous world         is deeply colored,
dread-drawn:      a reincarnate premise
a burnt out candle.

Can we draw conclusions about the problem?
Survival, the natural order of things.

Let us devise tests, reproduce                          the time-bound body
letters in closed envelopes.                Tilt the scales, little egos,
little heaps of inert matter             barely conscious.
Make a mystical something                         to be deduced from
analysis of     the man made
proof of survival.

It does not follow
that walls and doors are no obstacle.

This should be written in capital letters:
there is no scientific proof of survival.

The psyche          a circle
confines the body,       a higher octave

whisper       from a scientific angle.

This fine film does not register—
consider this symbolic.

Understand.                  Be certain
the shape and structure,
the greater number emerges, analogous to a field or
a luminous cloud, always shifting
around the dense physical body.

The objective view is the more convenient:

We are cups of liquid on a tray,
emptied. Every faintest ripple
recorded in the atmosphere itself.

Elisa Karbin's poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in The Journal, RHINO and Blackbird, among others. She earned her MA in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she is now a PhD candidate in poetry. She currently serves as a contributing poetry editor for The Great Lakes Review. (elisakarbin@gmail.com)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761