“Working with Ghosts” by Bob Lucky

Bob Lucky


Tanka Prose


I like being a ghost dentist. They don’t feel any pain, so I don’t have to worry about hurting them. I sometimes administer laughing gas because they like it so much, and I enjoy watching them convulse with laughter. It’s like watching coconut jelly on speed. They gave up rattling chains at me long ago. I’m in this job for the money. Nothing scares me. The best part is, they don’t have teeth.

phantom pain
where my heart used to be—
in the mirror
everything I see
skin deep




I like being a ghost teacher. Whatever they need to know to get by in this world, it’s too late to teach them. They’re dead, brain dead, always walking through walls as if they aren’t there. And you can’t understand a word they say; they moan a lot. I’ve tried to talk to them. I have a theory that ghosts are people who died during orgasm, but I can’t prove it. It’s just something I believe. Every year I give them all A’s. They’re never late to class. They never leave. When they really get into a book, though, they can be hard to find.

in a dream
I have my hands all over
Helen Keller—
I keep telling her the essay
must conform to MLA




I like being a ghost gigolo. You have to be flexible because you never know where one ghost ends and another begins. Get a few in a room and it’s like an orgy. You also need to be tolerant and open to experiences. Gender is hard to determine. You might think you’re going down on Marlene Dietrich when you’re actually blowing Caspar. And you can be bi, trans, poly, or all of the above, but you haven’t lived until you’ve had a ghost go in one orifice and come out another.

Valentine’s Day
a neon heart flickers
and on and off and on …
the Morse code of desire

from Rattle #47, Spring 2015
Tribute to Japanese Forms


Bob Lucky: “Like most people, I had to write a haiku at some point in elementary school. I just never stopped. When my son was born, I had no attention span for anything longer than a recipe, so I gravitated toward cookbooks, short-form poetry, and ukuleles. I’ve been writing haibun and tanka prose for about ten years. Sometimes a haiku or a tanka needs a context. Sometimes, in order to resonate, the prose or prose poem needs an epiphanic clapper.”

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