The Ghost in the Poem

I’m working on a novella with a working title of The Ghost in the Poem. My story is set in this decade, originally in New Orleans, but I think I’m going to change it to Charleston, SC. (Due to the hurricanes so changing things in New Orleans) The storyline is based on  an incident in Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s life. This influential Pre-Raphaelite poet and artist had married his model, Elizabeth Siddell. According to: Rosetti, “true to his offbeat beliefs, however, he continued to seek his pleasures with prostitutes, whilst portraying his wife as the pure, unattainable, almost divine beauty; his comments that his overwhelming love for her could only be increased by her death struck a cord with Elizabeth, and she obliged him by taking an overdose of his favourite laudanum, at the age of just 31. Rosetti’s reaction was, as usual, over the top; he collected up the manuscripts for all his unpublished poems and had them buried with her in her coffin. However a few years later he had her dug up, rescued his works, and sent them off to be published. This action seemed to have jolted away the last of his sanity and he spent his final years as a depressed recluse, tormented by a persecution mania. An artist’s soul is mirrored in his poetry . . .”

My idea is for a modern day poet to find a poet in the madhouse who went through a similar experience and interview him, seeking for some lost poems. I’ll have to give the plot more thought. I may use a female protagonist to be the poet who is looking for the lost poems. To help me get into this story, I wrote this poem today:

My Ghost

My ghost will haunt you,

There’s too many places

Where we were together,

And each one will prick your heart

And you’ll drink both bitter and sweet

Memories from those wells.

Those places, and us, will

Never be the same.

You could totally reconstruct

Your life and change your schedule,

But you won’t.

Even though you’ve embraced

A life without me now,

You would miss my ghost too much.

There’s certainly a ghost in the poems you hide,

You can sense him in the blood-ink lines of his verse,

A love-sick specter chained and tortured,

Begging you to be released from his coffin,

But you know you can’t let him out again.

My ghost will haunt you

Whenever you’re with him.

When he makes love to you,

When’s he’s nice and when he’s not,

My apparition left a trail of his past life with you,

Love tokens–books, songs, clothes, jewelry, scents.

My ghost is not malevolent,

Only heartbroken,

The most haunted kind.

The kind that never come back to life.