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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A RAT AND A GHOST by Enid Osborn

Volume 10: Satellite of Love is fortunate to have the work of nine of Santa Barbara's Poets Laureate. Enid Osborn was Poet Laureate from 2017-2019.





THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A RAT AND A GHOST

by Enid Osborn


1

You are comfortable with

the pops and sighs of the old house,

one hundred years and counting.


Animals make a different sound inside the walls

than droll house spirits do.

You think you hear intention—stealth, perhaps—

it brings your chi right to the surface.


Not the sound a bodiless soul makes

to say hello or to offer some dry and timely comment

on what you were just thinking.

You don’t have to take my word for it,

says the ghost, laissez-faire as all get out.


The intruder, on the other hand,

is anything but ambivalent

and doesn’t give a rat’s ass

what you think.


He is alive and wants to stay that way.

2

He climbs up the ancient skeleton

of abandoned plumbing inside the wall

toward a dim crescent of light

and the smell of neglect,


punches the powdery calking

with one hand and squeezes through

into the lower cupboard, the one

you never clean, so as not to stir memories.


He is now officially trespassing,

a noble rat vocation,

and likes what he smells. He possibly

likes your kitchen more than you do.


The places you fail to inhabit

are neon signs, written in rat.





Each of the Poets Laureate has their own section in Volume 10. Enid's is titled "Home on the West Side." To purchase Volume 10, visit our bookstore or amazon. Volume 10 will be in local Santa Barbara bookstores in late February.


Enid has lived 42 years in Santa Barbara and served as Poet Laureate in 2017-2019. Her book When the Big Wind Comes takes place in New Mexico, where her family raised horses. Her work appears mainly in regional and Southwest journals. Themed chapbooks include Wormlore, Queen in Exile, and Milagro. She co-edited the anthology A Bird Black as the Sun / California Poets on Crows & Ravens (2011.) Besides poetry, Enid writes songs, stories and reviews. She is a longtime advocate for organic growing and preservation of bees.

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