George Franklin

Ghosts

The bathroom mirror shows them to me β€” not complete
As they were in life, but fragments, an expression,
Nose at a certain angle, hairline retreating. Do my own
Children already notice bits of me clinging
To their reflections? Often, I’ll repeat something
My mother said, shrug like my grandfather,
Talk to myself as I shave the way my father did.
In a cemetery in Louisiana their coffins must have
Collapsed by now beneath the wet soil and clay,
But here they are, inhabiting me, without an invitation.
I frown the way I did at the breakfast table
With the green cover in my parents' bedroom.
I’d toss back dry toast and orange juice while my father
Made coffee in a percolator. It smelled burnt and sour,
Undrinkable. I hated school and, in the evenings, prowled
Through old issues of The National Geographic from the 1930s,
Imagining myself cycling through France, eating sausages
And baguettes, dressed in a thick wool sweater. It didn’t
Work out that way, but my parents and I were used to
Disappointing ourselves and each other. I wash the soap
Off my chin and reach for a towel.

About the Author

George Franklin is the author of Noise of the World (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions), Travels of the Angel of Sorrow (Blue Cedar Press), Among the Ruins / Entre las ruinas (Katakana Editores), and Traveling for No Good Reason (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions). Individual publications include: Into the Void, Sequestrum, The Threepenny Review, Salamander, Pedestal Magazine, Cagibi, and The American Journal of Poetry. He holds a PhD from Brandeis University, practices law in Miami, teaches poetry workshops in Florida state prisons, and is the co-translator, along with the author, of Ximena GΓ³mez’s Último dΓ­a / Last Day (Katakana Editores).