Stone Telling

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Empty Room

by Charlie Bondhus

returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice
        — Louise Glück

While I sleep the dead keep themselves
busy, bustling in the closets
dampening the clothes with ectoplasm,
two spirits coupling
underneath the bed.

They use my mouth like naughty children do a megaphone,
thrilling at their own thoughts refracted
through my dream-husky syllables.

This has nothing to do with the living.

They speak just to speak, a collection
of gossips, pleas, and tongue flaps.

My voice becomes violent in the darkness
even as it emerges suffused
with the softness of night-speak,
the departed's influence
a hand that strangles
from inside the throat.

Charlie Bondhus has published two books of poetry; What We Have Learned to Love, which won Brickhouse Books' 2008-2009 Stonewall Competition, and How the Boy Might See It (Pecan Grove Press, 2009). He has also published a novella, Monsters and Victims (Gothic Press, 2010). His poetry appears in numerous periodicals, including Assaracus, The Yale Journal for the Humanities in Medicine, The Tulane Review, Grey Sparrow Journal, The Q Review, and others. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College and a Ph.D. in literature from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He teaches at Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey.

Photography: Day 21 - Empty Beds by Ciaran McGuiggan.