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Thursday, April 12, 2007


by George Held

We're all of us Ghosts....It’s not only what we have inherited from our father and mother that walks in us. It's all sorts of dead ideas, and lifeless old beliefs, and so forth. They have no vitality, but they cling to us all the same, and we can't get rid of them. Whenever I take up a newspaper, I seem to see Ghosts gliding between the lines. There must be Ghosts all the country over, as thick as the sand of the sea.
— Ibsen, Ghosts

Those received ideas clogging the gears
Of our minds, making them grind to a halt
While synapses snap us to attention
When our leaders say, “War!” “Starve the Beast!”
“Privatize!” and all the other ghostly lies
That keep us immobilized in fear of change

Thick as thieves our masters, who pour
The sand of lies into the hourglass
Of our lives, choking us like a sand storm
In the Sahara , the grains thick on the tongue
Clogging the throat of protest, suffocating
Any cry for relief, for change

Thick as blood the war-wounded suffering
In hospitals, the poor struggling
To stay afloat, the homeless sleeping
In makeshift shelters or on the street,
The mad, the ill, suppurating
From wounds dealt by ghosts

George Held's chapbook W Is for War (Cervena Barva Press, 2006) contains two poems nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He contributes regularly to The New Verse News.