Volume 2 Number 1


Winter 2003

Life: a ghost story

Phil Rockstroh

This partitioning of perception we mistake for our lives, this nullification of the treatises of the heart, this neutering of the Eros of the imagination, this is what the world we created demands of us. It demands we never again dream of vast oceans refulgent with moonlight nor of its sceptered shorelines. When we rise from sleep in the sullen morning light, we must brush the cosmology of longing from our eyes and fall into lock-step with the procession of empty agendas that dominate the day and the empty appetites that have occluded the evening sky.

Yet our tears pool beneath it all. The ground feels less than solid. Our forsaken dreams and longings take up residence in furniture, rugs, and linen; they become imprisoned there and brood with decay. In the corner of your eye, you may have caught a glimpse of an end-table, a lampshade, or a sofa staring at you in utter contempt.

When we rise in the morning unrested, it is because we have been hectored by our pillows. Our faces are puffy from the brutal beating we have received from our bedsheets, as the lamp, night stand, and scornful wallpaper egg them on.

And this palls in comparison to the toll it takes on the person sleeping next to you, and, in turn, the enmity loosed by their own forsaken dreams takes on you.

In so many places, the world has grown so ugly: soulless strip malls, bland subdivisions, the obscenity of freeways--all built by the proliferate phantoms of our shallow ambitions. We killed the yearnings of our hearts and they have returned as mindless ghosts who have built this life-defying empire. You say you don't believe in ghosts? Then try this: Go to a public place, perhaps a shopping mall, and laugh or weep outright and then see what happens. See how long it takes to disturb the dead.

-- my sofa (a direct quotation)

Recently, I caught my sofa staring at me in that hateful way of hers. Finally, Iíd had enough and snarled, "What the hell are you staring at?"

Thatís what I've been trying to decide. A slave? A laboratory rat who has mistaken the maze before him, and the reward of a pellet of food at the end of it, for the full measure of existence? Pathetic, wouldn't you say?

Stung, I retorted, "You just hate me, because I sit with my ass on your face for hours at a time. What kind of an existence is that for you?"

Exactly. It was your cowardice that imprisoned me here. I'm the trapped essence of your better aspirations, the fading ghost of your passions, and all of what remains of who you once longed to be. What it all comes down to is this: When you're sitting on me, you're actually sitting on your own face, which is, of course, why everyone sees you as such an obtuse butthead.

My life has truly been ground down to shit-dust when a sofa gets the better of me in an argument.