Now that I think about it,

I'm not entirely sure

my neighbor had hands

of flesh, they were always cloaked

in yellow kid gloves,

they may have been bionic,

or constructed from wood.

Maybe his hands died

when he was young, so all

he had were ghosts for hands.

It's for this reason I'm suspicious

of hidden things: what are you keeping

from me under that bun,

Second Grade Teacher?

Or, are you sure your name is Huey,

man who greets me at the Home Depot?

As you can see, I only consider

nametags in the context of artifice,

like leprechauns, they're a construct of guilt.

The retail corporation feels bad

about paying Huey so few dollars

an hour, so they allow him

to brandish a piece of plastic on his left breast.

Better for him to sell me some dishwashers

or fake dandelions to place

on the table in my breakfast nook.

To hide from my cat or spouse or bowl

of cereal I forgot to clean up yesterday.

Jared Walls is an MFA candidate at Texas State University, where he serves as poetry editor for Front Porch Journal.
His poems have appeared in publications such as Willow Springs, Hunger Mountain, elimae and Pank. He lives with
his wife Caroline in a Reagan-era duplex in Austin, where he blogs about cats and hipsters at

Ghosts for Hands was written about two months ago. That's around the minimum amount of time I let a poem stew before I decide it's about as finished as it's going to be. If I remember correctly, I cut the ending. I have an initial tendency for closure, most of the time it 's overwrought, so I go to great lengths to step out of that comfortable context, the notion that the poem needs a tidy ending or that the initial rhetoric need be revisited.


Copyright 2009