Upon Not Seeing the Ghosts of a Velociraptor or My Dead Grandmother


Human law perpetuates
this flaw of logic
that reaches into the other-
worldly, disembodied voice
of a shriveled woman,
but never a bird of
prey at the foot of the bed.
If ghosts remain,
then they claim the earth
by numbers and cacophony,
our planet coated in the myelin
of dead things: velociraptor
feathers brush the cheek
of the Great Khan, his left boot
perched on the clasper
of a beached Megalodon,
tens of millions of years
of Cambrian explosion—
diapsid reptiles, coelacanths,
and dorudons—distending
the shark’s pale stomach
right outside of a Cocoa
Beach bungalow window.
Think of how many organisms
are dying inside of us
at any given moment,
sinus to colon.
What is considered finished
business when there is so much
on this planet left to consume,
so much afterlife
to look forward to? Each night,
I sleep inside a cloud
of thousands of Triassic
mosquitoes, proboscises
the pins and needles
in my arm, numb weight
under my pillow.
I like to think
we are being consumed
by all these ghosts
and this is the reason we age.
And sometimes, I prefer
to imagine nothing at all,
just so I may fall asleep,
all of these spirits in tow, unsure
of how to proceed without me.


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Lucian Mattison is an Argentinean American poet and author of Peregrine Nation (The Broadkill River Press, 2014) and Reaper's Milonga, forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2017. He is the winner of the 2016 Puerto Del Sol Poetry Prize and his poems appear or are forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, The Boiler, Everyday Genius, Hobart, Muzzle, Nashville Review, and elsewhere online and in print. His fiction appears in Fiddleblack, Nano Fiction, and Per Contra. He works at The George Washington University and is an associate editor for Big Lucks. To read more visit Lucianmattison.com.