“Ghost Stories” by Charles Gillispie

Under Construction, Doeki

Ghost Stories

She is the only person
attending Art Therapy.
Her hair is long and wild
as a horses tail
but gray and full of spells.
Her eyes crack like a whip
waiting for me to explain
I hand her eight pieces of paper,
each the size of a playing
card, and ask her to write
an autobiography.
I provide scissors and magazines
so she can illustrate
her story with images.
She opens a National Geographic
and cuts out the first phrase she finds:
Why I Roared!
and glues it to the cover of her book.
She opens a copy of People Magazine
and cuts out the picture
of a space alien from a popular film
as well as a marshmallow
and a pine tree.
She glues those images
into the pages of the book
and she’s ready to write.
I roared because I found a being                                                                    
inside my being.
She draws an arrow to the space alien.
Time in the woods shaped my life.
I am grateful for crickets.
She draws an arrow to the pine tree.
Ghost stories
told around the campfire
predicted my future.
She draws an arrow to the marshmallow
and adds The End.
I staple the pages together
while she untangles
her hair. She lets me read
the little book—                                              
I tell her it’s beautiful                        
and I want to know more.
Like a pillow
slipped from the case,
she stands. You keep it, she says
and walks back to the Day Room
to smoke cigarettes.


416Charles Gillispie is a counselor living in Tucson, Arizona.  He has published articles describing his work with poetry and counseling in Addiction Professional, Journal of Poetry Therapy, and Therapeutic Recreation Journal. Gillispie has received grants and fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts in support of his work with writing and therapy. His first collection of poems, The Way We Go On, was published by Backwaters Press in 2010. Most recently, his poems have appeared in december, Firewords, Oberon Poetry Magazine, and Psychological Perspectives.