Poem of the Week

Tiny Asthmatic Ghost

Adam Scheffler

I was thinking about how movement
is key, how in death I want to be cremated
burn up with desire and whoosh
with the wind, backspraying
onto a friend’s face or coat,

so much better than lying in the
ground, hands folded, at death’s
permanent serious dinner.

We need to work on
skipping into the room, lightly,
the way the breeze does,
the way the autumn does,
juggling smoke and midnight.

Look, I’m trying to accept the
density of my organs, trying to turn
my skin into glass so I can admire their
workings like 12 black holes.

I’m trying to ponder the difference
between thinking “get up”
and whatever subtle non-feeling
jolt actually moves my legs in
the morning.

How awful it is sometimes
meeting strangers, having to
– with each new person – scoop up
some version of yourself to hand
over from your mind’s scum,
which is why I don’t laugh at
the Tony Robbins self-help group
who walked on hot coals,
burning themselves badly
to the newspapers’ delight.

Adam Scheffler is the author of A Dog’s Life, which won the 2016 Jacar Press Book Contest. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Cincinnati Review, Antioch Review, Sewanee Review, and many other venues. He teaches in the Harvard College Writing Program.
Originally published:
November 19, 2020


Rachel Cusk

The novelist on the “feminine non-state of non-being”
Merve Emre


Renaissance Women

A new book celebrates—and sells short—Shakespeare’s sisters
Catherine Nicholson

Fady Joudah

The poet on how the war in Gaza changed his work
Aria Aber

You Might Also Like

Poem of the Week


Robert Travers

Poem of the Week

Notes for My Funeral

Alex Dimitrov

Poem of the Week

Over and Above

Jennifer Grotz


New perspectives, enduring writing. Join a conversation 200 years in the making. Subscribe to our print journal and receive four beautiful issues per year.