Writing from the Wilds

Writing from the Wilds participants, summer 2013

Conversation with My Ghost by Emma Nolan

At night by red candlelight
I invite my
Over for dinner
She picks at the plate of insta-mash potatoes
And puts some stringy beef in her mouth
I don’t eat
The idea of dining with my dead self seems even more mad than a

She asks if I checked the mail as if we dance
In a broken down marriage
I hand her a pile of bills and she simply replies with
‘That’s what killed us’
Before throwing the rent money into the fireplace
Along with an envelope covered in
Grave rot.

I Have a Pretend Life by Emma Nolan 

I have a pretend life
A house built on sand
My family is led by puppet strings
My friends are made of painted wood
My dog is a doll with glass eyes
My cat is a porcelain figure

The birds outside are windup toys
The white-gloved men turn their keys

In the Hollywood sunrise
I eat my plastic eggs put on my plastic suit
And go to my fake job
There I put rubber chickens into foam containers
Nothing here is real

When I come home no one greets me
My dog is a shadow in the corner
My cat a decoration on the mantel

I kiss my wife and hand her
The money
She stares out the window never moving
It’s too late
They are already dead



The Upside Down Octopus by Andrea Nelson

I can easily imagine
that you are an upside down octopus
whose head somehow got buried
in the earth.

your tentacles stopped thrashing
as that wicked bark ascended
upon your limbs
like a virus.

You must have been a special kind of octopus
since I count far more than
eight tentacles.

Did it hurt very much?
When your slippery tentacles hardened
and mold began to grow from their tips.
Fragile, flaky mold
green to brown to green again,
the once mighty eight-legged warrior
now reduced to a living corpse
whose health is dependent upon the seasons.

Poor upside down octopus!
Maybe one day you’ll thaw out
and your thrashing tentacles can
squeeze the life from the small children
who’ve dared to climb you
like you’re some kind of jungle gym.

And then I’ll dig you out
with my bare hands if I have to.

We’ll traipse around the world,
visit the seven wonders.
Maybe I’ll learn to like spicy food.

I’ll teach you how to be a vegetarian
when dealing with people.
You’ll teach me how to be a carnivore
when dealing with people.
We’ll teach each other lots of things.

Like how to view the world from upside down
or how to spray ink at our mortal enemies.
I know it’s squids who do that,
but you’re a special kind of octopus.

An upside down octopus.
Or maybe you’re a right side up octopus
and I’m just an upside down human
with gravity working in my favor.

Either way we make a great pair
you and I,
the upside down octopus and the right side up human
the right side up octopus and the upside down human

When you die I’ll bury you in the sky
among the stars.

You’ve been underground for far too long.

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