about the author

Sharon Venezio received an MA in creative writing from San Francisco State University where she won the Mark Linenthal Award for her poem “Meanwhile.” She is currently completing a manuscript titled “The Silence of Doorways.” She is a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets and a member of Writers at Work. Some of her work can be found in Reed, Transfer, Parthenon West Review, Midway Journal, Iris, Wicked Alice, Stirring, as well as other online and print journals. She can be found at sharonvenezio.com.

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Ghost Brother

Sharon Venezio

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The human figures confuse me.
Father’s fist drums down on the ghost,
though he doesn’t fight back.

His bruised body
limp in our father’s hands.
My mouth burning.

The underbelly of family
is the color of ash,
a face afraid of mirrors.

The ghost calls me to him
at the age of eight

watches me watch him
as he jumps off the roof
into the pool.

The ghost calls me into his room,
Swaying and playing a song on the guitar.
Swaying like the ragged willow
that floats in the dark window.

Out of touch with the rhythm of the music,
heroin eyes spinning like the turntable.
wrong lyrics, wrong note,
and he wants me to watch.

The ghost is an empty mouth, opening
and closing, empty chair at the dinner table,
empty eyes floating in his face, ghost chanting:
Look at me, I’m nothing. Do you want to be like me?

The ghost stole mother’s jewelry.
Half-moon diamond and bloodstone.
The ring our father saved for months to buy.
Money earned sweating over a machine,
doing things he never intended his hands to do.

The ghost brings me to a concert,
car swerving all over the road, eyelids fall
through the intersection.

And I, his little sister without a license,
take the wheel.

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