Tiny Asthmatic Ghost

Adam Scheffler


I was thinking about how movement
is key, how in death I want to be cremated
burn up with desire and whoosh
with the wind, backspraying
onto a friend’s face or coat,

so much better than lying in the
ground, hands folded, at death’s
permanent serious dinner.

We need to work on
skipping into the room, lightly,
the way the breeze does,
the way the autumn does,
juggling smoke and midnight.

Look, I’m trying to accept the
density of my organs, trying to turn
my skin into glass so I can admire their
workings like 12 black holes.

I’m trying to ponder the difference
between thinking “get up”
and whatever subtle non-feeling
jolt actually moves my legs in
the morning.

How awful it is sometimes
meeting strangers, having to
– with each new person – scoop up
some version of yourself to hand
over from your mind’s scum,
which is why I don’t laugh at
the Tony Robbins self-help group
who walked on hot coals,
burning themselves badly
to the newspapers’ delight.


Adam Scheffler’s first book of poems, A Dog’s Life, was the winner of the 2016 Jacar Press Book Contest. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry ReviewThe Cincinnati ReviewAntioch ReviewSewanee Review, and many other venues. He teaches in the Harvard College Writing Program.

Image: “My first multiple by error photo made by Semflex!” by martathegoodone, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.