Becoming Our Own Ghosts

Fresh breezes luff the cedars
over & above the ticking guckiness: a beach
bursting with angry ernes, tacit terns, and hungry gulls.
Each of us hopes to cope with the poppling tide,
almost as if we have a choice.

Having found our odyssey wanting, we know the way
we’ve come, if not the anyway back.
Not enough where to keep us there, anyway.
Having opted not to disbelieve, we remake the world
in front of a world left over.
So before we’ve eventually left, we’ve arrived
where we already are.

Becoming our own ghosts, we don’t learn much
as we grow older, but we suspect a lot.
Wise enough to know far worse than this,
we still get the chance to show
our inexperience. And the whole idea
is to die as late as possible.

Meanwhile, over there, endearing beyond desire,
fear or despair, sirens decorate the beckoning rocks,
wasting their lives waiting for sailors
instead of offering swimming lessons to kids.
With dusk, their breasts will start to glow
like lanterns wishing they were fireflies.

Bill Howell

Bill Howell, one of the original Storm Warning poets, has had a literary career spanning five decades. His work appears regularly in journals and anthologies across Canada, in the UK, Australia, Sweden, Japan, and the US. Born in Liverpool, England, he grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and has lived in Toronto for more than half his life. Bill was a network producer-director at CBC Radio Drama for three decades. Ranging from the lyrical to the ironic, his poetry deploys colloquial language, deliberate narrative, and a sharp sense of the focused moment. Recent work: Canadian Literature, Dalhousie Review, Great Lakes Review, Literary Review of Canada, The Orchards Poetry Journal, Queen’s Quarterly, Stand, Tokyo Poetry Journal, Two Thirds North, and White Wall Review. His latest collection, The Way Things Are at the Moment, will be released later this year by the American publisher, Kelsay Books.