Cole Swensen



Mirrored Ghost


blue can be extracted             from any number            other things            in the hallway

things have a way of waiting               or of looking like luggage             so impatient

that the layers seem                                  a separate woman walked out a door one evening


you were only a neighbor and so said nothing              we so often                 find a woman

walking out a door                        sometimes it means nothing                sometimes the door

slams and you think she’s angry                but she’s thinking              about something else entirely

and so the door slams shut.



To Be


To be haunted is to be lined               with a separate time                 one just slightly off-set, one
spotted mirror ajar, to feel above all                sometimes inside the arms, but more interior still

A man silhouetted in a window, naked, but lit                  and where does the light

why does light fit

a window, an unshorn sail           a tradition of sightings            that credits the sighted         with unlikely, but what does it prove?                     That a solid object

say a lead weight on the end of a line        say an owl, an attic, an incendiary          a weight like that
in the armature of a window

may seem uncanny, may seem an archer                is more the thing empty          an archer stood
at a crossroads, counting.


Who Did


who did not see because

to see is to enter as

a child on a staircase

an inherited streetlight

but the child’s hand is on the lightswitch

in fascination

will flick it

will it                to be alive
                                          a thing must turn around
and smile. Or we will not will it

to be a child

one must stand on the bottom stair

or on the top stair and be struck

by the emptiness of a house
in which everyone else is asleep


I Watched a House


If there was light on a building         if a building was white          if the light in a wash            passed

a hand across a face           washed the light right off                 I sat across       
from a building across which the sun in setting                it’s summer, and so to speak
of the sun          setting is perhaps a bit ingenuous                           and made itself a path

If light were, as some say, the ghost of God                     What house would              

stand in the middle of the street                   listing names
Writing became                     the only way of assuring that a given thing                could not be said    

I watched light cross               a building              which made of it a face.         I saw the facade

of a building            build itself to sight          slight         wound to the eye          the sort that leaves

a streak of red               set          upon its own time             a seal         left a light on.