The Ghost of Me

The Ghost of Me

Although I’ve dreamt of nightmares
Hover deep and frighten me,
And though they keep the wonder,
Always hoping not to see,
I’ll close a pair of living eyes
And stay them tight, til the sun has come–
For nights are used to hauntings
Of people never done.

I vaguely know the smell of them,
But deep, to thoughts, they sink.
And memory betrays the young,
When at night it makes them think
Of ghouls and goblins, all the sorts,
And truer things, that do live, and breathe,
And walk among the living,
And wake only when they die.

But I sometimes know this feeling
From the other side — the sight
Of a child who’s now lying
Near the place where I died of fright.
I can see him cower, look away
From the windowpane, where stares a face
That’s sadder than terrifying,
Who, before, feared children nights.

And I’ll stand outside, still watching,
And wait for him to die
As he lets them go, his childhood fears,
When he starts to fear true life,
And endure the empty darkest nights
That soon, will seem just the loss of light.

For soon, the boy must simply see
That a man’s the ghost of me.


About this poem

I wrote the above poem years and years ago, when I was a young adult. If I remember correctly, it was during a time when I was about to begin a job that I didn’t really care about, and I was doing it simply because I needed a job to save face and to end the scrutiny of my peers and my parents for not having a job.

I quit that job after four days. One of my friends had told me to stick it out with the job for 6 months, then I can decide if I should quit. I’d told him that if I’d stayed with that job for 6 months, I’d have died of a heart attack or some kind of cancer. A day after I quit, I wound up working freelance for a design company, and I’ve been freelancing ever since.

Years and years later, I look at this poem and am beginning to understand it. I think what I was trying to say back then was, It seems the difference between children and adults is that adults have accepted the fact that they will never be able to fulfill their dreams or finish a really cool project, because they’re mired in the day-to-day activities of being an “adult”. As an adult, there is no more listening to your inner self because your job, external responsibilities, and social circles are too loud and overwhelming to allow you to do that. As an adult, you become a ghost, a shell, of what you used to be, which was a free-thinking, free-moving, free-breathing child.

There’s an old Twilight Zone episode, where a young, happy woman, one day while riding on a horse, is chased by a screaming, bitter old woman also riding a horse. It turns out the old woman is the young woman’s older self, warning the young woman that if she doesn’t follow her heart, she will ultimately become a bitter, old woman. Maybe that’s where I got the idea for the poem.

This is what made me think of all this today:

Breaking Free from Social Programming

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