ROTOSCOPE

MADELEINE MORI

Sometimes I think ghosts are like our otherselves
…………….in the parallel universes grown from every choice
we didn’t select, rapping their knuckles against the walls of their box,
…………….trying to find the false door for another shot
back in this world. In the oldest bar of Red Hook, I sip two fingers
…………….of J’s death in the random company of a few weary men.
They look at me like absinthe, like a hallucinogen lurks inside.
…………….I knock my fist against the bar, which causes the man
at the opposite end to shoot his gaze at me, his eyes a flash of green.
…………….The horn’s sinister opening of “St. James Infirmary” drifts
from the speakers and I remember Cab Calloway’s version
…………….in that old Betty Boop cartoon. More than his singing,
he was known for his dancing, his pallbearer’s pitter patter
…………….sketched over to make him a ghost, the animation
so lifelike you can almost see the sweat stacked like rings.
…………….The hospital never quite told me who got the donation
of J’s green eyes when the cancer took him, where they lived,
…………….what they liked to drink. A man 69-years old received
restoration of sight.
Tell me. I know nothing of ophthalmology.
…………….When fresh retina is braided into burnt fibers,
do the living see through the dead, the tender hurts my lover saw
…………….overlaid upon the stranger me? I keep entering boxes,
keep knocking. The man punches my favorite song
…………….into the jukebox, starts to tell me a story about angels
…………………………..and I think Maybe this is the door back.

MADELEINE MORI is a Japanese-American poet and winemaker originally from San Francisco. She received a BS in Wine and Viticulture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and was the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, judged by Suzanne Lummis. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Aperçus Quarterly, BOAAT, and Bone Bouquet, among others. She is currently an MFA candidate at New York University, where she serves as Co-Poetry Editor of Washington Square Review, and lives in Brooklyn.