The Ghost in the Machine

March 31, 2014

It’s true, the light does stay on when the door
is closed. You can sit inside the fridge all day,
turn blue against the white [and low fat] milk,
until your feet fall asleep, and you breathe
the last of the breathable oxygen.
Perhaps the light stays on so you can see what
it’s like to freeze to death, to see its shadows
against the eggs and think them ghosts—
like Galahad and his gal who are galloping off
into what they think is the sunset.
You could be that white knight, you know,
the one that thinks white means holiness,
that frost that’s left from winter could be a poem.
So, bon voyage, my friend, safe trip, safe home.

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8 Responses to “The Ghost in the Machine”

  1. John Stevens Says:

    What a wonderful, hilarious anecdote! I bet God was laughing heartily over that.

  2. Thomas Davis Says:

    And you’ve been burning ever since? What a wonderfully appropriate story. Now we know what’s behind the poem.

  3. extrasimile Says:

    Thomas—Gee, did I really say all that? St Joseph of Arimathea in my fridge? Easter eggs? I think I should tell you the story about the time I set myself on fire during Easter Mass. This is when I was maybe eleven. I was an altar-boy in the procession. All I had to do was walk down the aisle and then go back and stand along the side of the altar. All I had to do was carry a candle, keep it lit and don’t spill any wax. You see where this is going. In those days the Catholic mass was in Latin and it was typical to follow the mass with a missal, the Latin on one side, English on the other. While I studiously followed along, the candle crept closer to my surplus…whosh, it caught fire, smoke billowing all over the place, with me jumping all over the place. I did put it out with no harm to me—or the church, but did get everyone’s attention. Years later my uncle was reading through a Catholic magazine when he came across a little reminiscence: someone remembering the time the altar boy set himself on fire. I guess I’ve had my 15 minutes of fame.

  4. Thomas Davis Says:

    And like John says, it’s a sonnet too! Of the experimental sort.

  5. Thomas Davis Says:

    Fact: “the light does stay on when the door
    is closed.”
    Imagination: “You can sit inside the fridge all day,
    turn blue against the white [and low fat] milk,
    until your feet fall asleep, and you breathe
    the last of the breathable oxygen.”
    Projection: “Perhaps the light stays on so you can see what
    it’s like to freeze to death, to see its shadows
    against the eggs and think them ghosts–”
    All tongue and no cheek up until this point, although the projection makes you think and laugh at the same time, not a bad feet of legerdemain. Then that religious-mythical stuff:
    “like Galahad and his gal who are galloping off
    into what they think is the sunset.”
    Galahad, the purest of knights, illegitimate son, finds the holy grail, the last knight to do so, and ascended into heaven in the company of angels. No Guinevere for him. No tragedy. So, what is he doing in a poet’s refrigerator against the eggs, symbol of fertility and Easter? The ghost in the machine, indeed. He did choose the time of his own death, of course. Did St Joseph of Arimathea sneak into your refrigerator with the Grail and Christ’s blood Jim? Is the light really, as the oxygen is used up, the vision of the holy grail?
    By no, in spite of all the symbolism freezing up in there,
    “You could be that white knight, you know,
    the one that thinks white means holiness…”
    Me? John? Anna? Everybody who reads the poem? I could be the white knight? But I don’t think white means holiness do I?
    Imagination as metaphor: The one that thinks that in the refrigerator:
    “frost that’s left from winter could be a poem.”
    “So, bon voyage, my friend, safe trip, safe home.” Is home heaven at the end of Galahad’s ascension? Or is it the trip to Washington DC that I have to take on April 13? If it’s the latter, thanks, Jim. If it’s the former, well, I’m not quite ready yet and don’t know St Joseph of Arimathea and am nowhere near pure enough to see the grail.
    This is a poem that could give you spiritual and corporeal shivers all over.

  6. extrasimile Says:

    Thanks to you both. The ghost in the machine is how some philosophers characterize Descartes conception of the mind/ body problem. The physical side of problem is the machine part and the controlling consciousness is the ghost part. I figured, if a human machine can have a ghost, why not a refrigerator? And of course, John, it’s only natural a fridge would have a rather chilly view of the world.

  7. John Stevens Says:

    You are most inventive Jim. This is entertaining – bleakly perhaps, but highly entertaining! And it is interesting to note once again how versatile the sonnet form can be.


  8. Just a thought about light inside a fridge and u created a poem…..It is amazing. Beautiful poem.


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