• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 09
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Green tape / dream landscape with ghosts

Dream landscape of childhood backroads squeezed between overgrown bushes,
tarmac covered in decomposed leaves and petals. Distant speakers
play a background soundtrack, stickiness of bass and rhythm guitar
exceeding humidity, hi hats like light rain, wisps of voice:
dub custom engineered by the maze of lanes alongside treefrogs
chatting all night. Some whistle love songs, others chirp threats and mark turf,
and some become possessed by the spirits of dead cell phones and ring,
activate some kind of deep response in humans trained to their tones.
An unknown entity caught on the recording whispers threats,
hints at its presence within the feedback and promptly vanishes.

They’re not the only things here to establish contact,
deliberate or not: formless others speak throughout these islands,
amplify with surf and birdsong, tune on the radio and the electric hum
made by everyday appliances. No wonder you heard voices
fading in and out of the empty yard, and thought they spoke to you.
No wonder the A/C warned you when the man was about to come through,
no wonder the distant singer told you just take all the damn pills
before cops could pull up, plan affirmed by backup-singer treefrogs.
No wonder. I don’t fault your mind for ticking over when car doors slam,


Green tape / dream landscape with ghosts

or when angry kiskadees call out my name but I ignore them:
that landscape beyond time spills into my present frequently,
places phantom casuarina berries underneath my bare feet
while the whistle of sea wind through their needles strains to reach my ear.
Every voice speaking in these islands, truly it speaks – that, you knew.
Every speaker playing tune carried a message you decoded
instantly; it took me years and distance, memory converging
with dream landscape. I understand why you had to take late night walks
when the radio and ocean agreed it wasn’t safe at home,
or when cockroaches tipped you off so you could run unpoisoned from the raid
only to drift backroads telling folks you’d been made a full-fledged ghost.

If I placed a tape recorder in these roads you used to wander,
superimposed the dream landscape of childhood over what it’s become,
spoke to treefrogs and to the decomposing leaves they hide under,
would I receive the answers, the riddles you accepted from them?
Or would the tape buzz with mysterious static, the messages
unlistenable for those of us who choose not to become ghosts?
Is there a hidden cut off place that’s truly silent, where you go
to escape that which you couldn’t help but hear hum through these islands?
When you next come out to wander my memory, I’ll be ready
to embrace and ask you everything I ever meant to ask you.
In the twist of crossroads I will wait for your presence, sister ghost.