We chase ghosts even when they only come
in the form of metal signs bolted to poles
in downtown LA.
We drive around and around, changing lanes,
trying to find a place to park
so that you can run out and take a picture
of John Fante Square,
in the last vestiges of Bunker Hill.
We chase ghosts, even when they are only
stones in the ground.
Our hands placed upon the grave,
the marker that said, there once was a man
who didn’t try,
who lived a life,
who wrote a life,
and we think
because we read his words that we
knew him too or hope we did
or think we do or hope we have
the kind of life that is really lived.
We chase ghosts,
slowing down on the sidewalk
to pass houses everyone else passes
every day without notice.
Old houses, stone houses, wood houses,
Stained with wind and dirt and new paint.
Hung with ugly decorations now.
They are our churches.
They held the lives of these people,
these people we think we knew,
or we hope we might have known
if fate had been a little less cruel with her timing.
We chase ghosts and take pictures,
of places they have just left,
spaces they once occupied,
when all they left behind are the ideas,
the words, the work.
No one likes these pictures,
“What is with all the houses?
What is with all the graves?”
They ask but they don’t understand.
Ghost chasing his hard work.
These people are real to me, you see,
more real than the people around me,
more real than people I have known
my whole life,
more real than the beggars and the millionaires
and the cops and the old ladies that
build this city.
These people, these dead people,
who still talk to me, who feel as though
they just stepped away for another six pack at the store
and will be back if you just wait, for a moment
on the couch on their front porch,
these people, you see,
they are my only real friends.
11 hours ago