Quantum Phantomology

If I say I want a dead friend,

I mean I want a dead friend I didn’t

know when he was alive—someone

I’ve never smelled, never heard

floating that bashful swim-bladdery

cough over my shoulder when I thumb

through a greasy romance novel

A little dead friend who rides

around in the pocket of my blue

cardigan, sculpting egg cases

(A. styx) from lint & spit &

the soft scraps of laundered rcpts—

to be pasted on pale-bellied leaves.

When I want to burn my secret

diary cross-hatched with X’s name,

my dead friend says no, drags me

to the baptism river. We float

the pages & race along the bank

until, swollen with enough water,

they sink & at that spot we bury

a snail shell in the muddy bank.

My dead friend sucks in river air & draws

all the lost vowels, foamy bubbles,

up from the yellow water, but nt

ll at once, gradlly, & th consnants

snk dwn & dwn nt th brwn slt.

After I share my sob saga if stick

girl says “at least you can write

a poem about it” my dead friend

sinks his fingerlings (up to 2nd

knuckle) in one of her visceral

sweet sponges & she’ll mistake

the lingering cold volt for regret.

Who can speak the invisible

languages, forecast each juiced

swarm that flits overhead, hums

underfoot. Sometimes a leaf will

palpitate with a white static

water-noise in the cottonwood:

here, then over here.