But if you're dead, perhaps you'd prefer
not to know it. Much poetry I read
seems to advertise, but not reveal,
a secret -- perhaps a secret the poet
keeps from the poet: The poet is dead,
but please don't let on -- you'll hurt
his/her, well, not feelings, but
whatever ghosts have -- reputations?
Of course, poets do die; that is, bodies do,
and poets are often suffered to have bodies.
And then some who die become classics.
What harm in practicing to become classic?
The living dead are ghosts, and ghosts
are mainly old white bed sheets (or so
we're taught each Halloween) with giggling
children inside, which suggests there can be
something lovable about blank sheets.
(Can you hear this paper giggling in the background,
barely able to pretend to take my words
But real ghosts (living or dead) contain nothing
they are certain is real. They flicker
in and out of being -- unlike our sturdy classics:
Have you ever seen a classic,
Have you ever seen a classic
Go this way and that?
Note: The last section plays on an old Scottish dance or nursery
rhyme: Have you ever seen a lassie.... In this case, going this
way and that refers to the flickering presence of ghosts, though
it may also echo dimly the two meanings of "gay" in the
previous poem: "Oh, does he go THAT way?" And eyes that
glitter with an older meaning.