THERMOS 10: Hunter Deely, “Ghost Hunting”

This is another poem from a special issue of THERMOS featuring Hunter Deely’s poetry. You can check back every couple days in the coming month for more of his poetry. For an introduction, see here.



Ghost Hunting


My mother is ghost hunting in Laredo,
in a white stucco house with fruit trees
in the yard. She created lemoranges
by graft of limb, as a child. For a year
they kept a pet white tailed deer
whose black and white picture still hovers
over the soft ashes in the fireplace.
Some things cannot last. First,
there was a murder in the workshop.


My grandfather killed a Mexican boy
who had snuck through a window
into his workshop at night. My grandmother
decided to leave him then, the lights
of Laredo illuminating the hot, sweaty
cheek of her husband, to leave him
because that night, as he set the gun
back in its case, she realized
that he felt no remorse.


Hunting disgusts me. Those who take pleasure
in death disgust me. I refuse to celebrate
the gun. I believe death is the only revolution.
Let it come in due time. We keep a gun
in our house as a thing to be reviled.
Any man who does not hunt for bare survival
is a fake and a coward, and I will say it
to his face. Let the lemon trees tell you why.


One night something happened in a bedroom.
My grandfather shot himself in the head
with his hunting rifle, while his new wife
and two daughters were in the next room.
His wife is still convinced it was a cartel
who wanted him dead because he volunteered
his medical services to the border patrol.
He also believed heroin should be legal
and all drug addicts should get free treatment
from the government. He loved the smell
of a deer’s intestines as they fell into a pile
of dried leaves of oak and mesquite.
Ghosts are created from the memories of the living.
My mother can’t finish her novel.
She can’t get past finding the ghost.


When a man poached a deer not two hundred
yards from our house one winter my father
walked across the field with a shotgun
and told the hunter not to come here again.
We don’t want bullets in our air.
My mother puts lemons on everything she eats.
I think the ghost has been with us all along.


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