Kissing ghosts by Samuel Wagan Watson

As an extension of Arc’s Canada-Australia joint issue with Australia’s Cordite magazine, over the next several weeks, Arc will be publishing online selected pieces from Australian poets — this is in addition to the Australian poetry published in print in Arc 77. For the Arc-Cordite joint issue, each magazine handed the editorial responsibilities over to the other: so that Cordite filled Arc #77 (and these these webpages) with nothing but Australian poetry, prose and artwork; Arc did the same for Cordite (Arc’s part of this partnership will be published online at Cordite in December 2014). Our intent in this partnership is to showcase and cross-pollinate poetics between Australia and Canada and to share with a broader audience poetry that may be little known outside of home borders.


Kissing ghosts

When dreaming
You attempt to walk on eggshells
and end-up knee-deep in ectoplasm,
kissing ghosts.
When yearning
You attempt to not repeat the past
yet achieve the sensation of a haunting déjà vu,
kissing ghosts.
When content
You attempt to quell a burning
dowse your mortal coil that can only be quenched while
kissing ghosts,
kissing ghosts that cannot harm you,
kissing ghosts that are not culpable for telling you they love you,
kissing ghosts that were never there,
the ectoplasm of lust a fingers length in darkness

when really,
it was all in your head.


Samuel Wagan Watson’s ancestry is Birri Gubba, Mununjali, Gaelic and German. Born in 1972, he comes from a family of raconteurs. His third collection of poetry, Smoke Encrypted Whispers won the New South Wales Premier’s Book of the Year and the Kenneth Slessor Prize. He lives in Brisbane and has just completed his next collection of writings: Love Poems + Death Threats.

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