Jarad T. Bushnell is a data scientist who lives in Philadelphia with his wife and cat. His poetry has appeared in Grand Little Things and WestWard Quarterly. When he’s not reading or writing, he enjoys backyard astronomy, calisthenics, and exploring nature.


If I were a ghost what would I do?
Enter your home just to scare you?
If it were mine
Before I died
Then you’d be the one to intrude

If I were a ghost what would I say?
Whisper at night your own full name?
Or would it be
A howl or scream
Or some other saying or phrase?

If I were a ghost where would I go?
Travel through space from this world?
Am I confined
To my own time
Or am I allowed to explore?

If I were a ghost how would I move?
Freely on beams of the full moon?
Would I be quick
Or slowly slink
And rattle a chain while I do?

If I were a ghost how would I look?
Human or mist or demonic?
Hopefully I’d
Look like a guy
With only a tad of translucence

If I were a ghost what would I see?
Other ghouls floating just like me?
Would they be peers
From over the years
Or would I just be the one only?


I sometimes visualize
A silver lining in my hellstorm’s side
Snugly guarded by a thunderous galloping
Gushing gallons underneath streak lightning
Discard hail particles to guzzle cloud cover
Sucking on the silver ‘til my teeth tarnish metal
‘til I’m less man than mineral

It’s true.

Here the remnants stand of a good man
Once fresh flesh now wretched health
Once wholehearted now a honeycomb chest
Whittles a whistle from my weakened breath
I offer up a bold and villainous request
“Spare the specters of my better half!”
The sky laughs
The weather attacks
I slither seeking silver in the sides of cloud cracks


The death crawl was inevitable
When I was eighteen I started the prowl
What grew from the ground would be my self-brought downfall
While I hide out in a bombed out hall
Of pipe lung organs and smoldering cackles
Soon, I’d be a corporate tank driver to terrorize the favors nature gave me to hold

My mouth is a smokehouse with hot teeth coals
A charred wood throat and tongue like a hangman’s rope
My clothes smell of five dollar bills set in flames to the timing of staccato smoke rings

Poison halos paused posed as image and poor style
Suppose the rings were strangling politely over time
Preposterous! I’m one hundred percent all the time! All the time!
That’s the lie, that’s the cherried line
The record in my head skipping on a skull crack

Brain tricks body tricks nervous social outings
Tricks a perverse use of a morose endurance
While the reassurance of right is a pain
With a ball and chain for each lung chamber
A ball and chain for each lung
Stained outbound blood via rotted-out heart veins