Michael Gessner

Ghost Trees



The Cypresses of Monterey Bay stand

with green flat-tops, like stroppy berets,

the rest all trunk, shiny-smooth & gray,

randomly broken 8’s & twisted 3’s

polished by vandal sand & wind.


Here is one, with hand-on-hip,

& its head, a flat branch around

an empty circle—ready to strut

across a wild stage, all akimbo

as if on some chilly carnal mission.


“Eerie,” tourists say, like the stick people

who walk the beach day after day,

who must live near the sea at any price,

as if the ocean would fill an empty heart

through which sea wind blows,


& what they say they say to themselves

as if no one else had ever been, that they too

had made some memorable performance

that cannot be recalled, some thought

that returned only to leave again.

Michael Gessner is the author of six poetry collections. The most recent is Transversales, and forthcoming this year Selected Poems. He lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife, a watercolorist, and their dog, “Irish.” His son Christopher writes for screen. Other publications, reviews, and readings can be found at www.michaelgessner.com.



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