Ghosts in the halls / darby lyons
for Arthur, Raj-Paul, Richard, and more
There are ghosts in the halls of this school,
boys walking past lockers, jostling their friends,
dragging backpacks by one strap,
the weight of the unfinished
homework they carry as proof
they don’t need to follow the rules
to be loved. Some of them care
more than they will pretend,
more than they want the others to know.
Some of the ghosts are celebrated
in headlines, above the details of death—
the ones who ran faster, studied longer,
were stronger than the weight
of anxiety and doubt. They are the ones
reporters call “good kids,” the faces
on front pages, wearing uniforms and medals,
The others fall in stories far below
the fold: a name, an age, a record of
ways they may have brought this on
themselves. But all of them leave
hearts behind, unreported, untallied.
They wander here, where they’re always sixteen, always
believing they’re immortal, unable to imagine
a hole in the chest, a skull blown through,
blood and brains washed from a sidewalk,
an apartment lobby, the floor of a bar.
They will always hover here,
between boy and man and good and bad,
lighthearted and laughing,
what their headlines will say.
Darby Lyons lives in Cincinnati and recently retired after 31 years of teaching English and creative writing in Wyoming, Ohio. She received her MFA from the Sewanee School of Letters, and her work has appeared in Mud Season Review, Flights, and other publications. She was a Tupelo Press 30/30 Project poet for the month of April, 2018.