"Boo Come Here Often?" - Unidentified Blog Artist
Ghost in the Land of Skeletons
If not for flesh's pretty paint, we're just a bunch of skeletons, working hard to deny the fact of bones. Teeth remind me that we die. That's why I never smile, except when looking at a picture of a ghost, captured by a camera lens, in a book about the paranormal. When someone takes a picture of a spirit, it gives me hope. I admire the ones who refuse to go away. Lovers scorned and criminals burned. I love the dead little girl who plays in her yard, a spectral game of hide and seek. It's the fact they don't know they're dead that appeals to me most. Like a man once said to me, Do you ever feel like you're a ghost? Sure, I answered, every day. He laughed at that and disappeared. All I could think was he beat me to it.
In “Ghost in the Land of Skeletons”, Christopher Kennedy has responded to his fear of death, a fear that most people share at one time or another. The first thing that intrigued me about this poem was the title, for it establishes a contrast between two things that are generally considered one in the same: ghosts and skeletons. They are both typically associated with death or burial, but Kennedy has separated them to make a point. In his writing, skeletons represent tangible death – a body that is no longer on Earth. Ghosts, on the other hand, represent the spiritual world or the afterlife.
My favorite line was “Teeth remind me that we die. That’s why I never smile…” for it’s such a strong statement about Kennedy’s fear. He claims he can never truly be happy, for all humans eventually die. Pictures of the afterlife, however, perhaps in paranormal photography, give him hope that death isn’t the absolute end.
I enjoyed the eeriness of “Ghost in the Land of Skeletons”, even the poet’s twisted thoughts; he has a powerful attitude. He appreciates the people that have done bad things (lovers and criminals), for they are permitted to stay on the planet completely unaware that they’re dead. When I read deep into the poem, it almost seems like he’d rather be a bad person because after death, he’d get to stay right where he is.
When I saw this poem on the week’s poetry response page, I immediately wanted to read it, for I’ve always loved suspense and horror fiction. Growing up as a little girl, I read almost nothing but scary stories such as Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps, and stacks of mystery and thriller chapter books. The approach to death in this poem was almost uncomfortable to read. I was taken aback by the line, “I love the little dead girl who plays in her yard…”. Kennedy writes with a creepy frankness that startled me at first, but was captivating at the same time. I think everyone questions the afterlife, the existence of the paranormal, and whether or not ghosts are really out to scare us. But it got me thinking – ghosts are considered dangerous and terrifying, but at one point in time, they were humans just like us. We all might be ghosts one day; what will humans think of us then?