Jennifer Faylor’s Ghost Machine by Eric Raanan Fischman

At two a.m. we awaken to find

that our ‘DO NOT ENTER’ sign has disappeared

from our main map, at the border that separates

the world from the heavens.

When Jennifer Faylor turned three-years old, she was visited by three ghosts. This was no coincidence. The year before, she had been visited by two ghosts: a man of flames with white eyes and woman like incandescent pearl (years later, she would discover these to have been the Sun and Moon). And on her first birthday, as only her grandmother remembers, she was visited by a smiling, rambunctious Hanuman, the monkey king.

This time, the apparitions came as three sisters. The first might well have been the daughter of the pearl woman. She had long blue hair that flowed seamlessly into the ribbons of her dress. She shimmered in a way that made it hard for the eye to hold her, fuzzing the edges between her clothes and her body.

The next wore a gown of precious gems, of sapphires and rubies, sharing equal space with granite, limestone, and mountain coal. Her lips were phantoms like the others, and yet they were darker, richer. Although the three sisters were identical, to Jenny she was the most beautiful. About her a magnetic storm, an aura of lightning that lifted and protected her.

The last looked to be the daughter of the man of flames. Where she moved, her flesh flickered. Nude but for the heat, she hid her sultry in smoke and smolders. Her thigh would blacken and disappear, then burn bright orange against Jenny’s bedroom wall.

The three sisters floated in the winter moonlight translucent, windows framed in their misty torsos. Jenny had known them the moment she saw them. They were the ghosts of Water, Earth, and Fire.

At this point in the legend, accounts diverge. Some say each of the women presented her with a promised future of pleasure and ease, but these she found emotionally bankrupt and so rejected them. Others say she accepted all three at once and became a world-famous, traveling poet-chocolatier. In the version I love best, the women open up their mouths to speak, but nothing comes out. The distant hiss of waves; a deep, low rumble; the whistle and crack of dry tinder.

Jenny looks at the three voiceless women and wonders: What is missing?

Then she feels a rising in her throat. Something unbounded, as of a spirit or a spell. It is a name she has felt in her heart, but never spoken aloud. Jenny opens her mouth and lets go the word: “Muse.

Out of her breath, a shape begins to form. It clothes itself in the sounds still hanging on the air. Though it moves invisible, like a distortion in space, Jenny can see its face is the same as the others. As she rejoins her sisters, the ghost of Wind touches a hand to each of their cheeks. Together, they begin to sing.

Whatever you choose to believe about Jennifer Faylor, it will invariably be true. As a poet she dwells in multiplicity. Her debut publication, a 2013 chapbook from Dancing Girl Press entitled, The Case of the Missing Lover, is a choose-your-own-adventure-love-poem which hints that sometimes finding your happy ending means rewriting the rules of the game. Her characters occupy “the in-between place,” between sleep and awake, material and phantom, poem and prose. In Jennifer’s worlds, the color of reality is thought.

To cure the heartache

of the telephone she presses its zero button gently,

and repeatedly. Soon it no longer stores

all those late night phone calls

Her first full-length collection, Edison’s Ghost Machine, published this year by Aldrich Press, elaborates the shape of a love through loss. The narrator, whose lover Alice is taken by illness, spends the rest of the book chasing after her. [S]he investigates coat fibers, reads messages in black wings, buries telegrams in the dirt. Not a solution to grief but a study in purity. The narrator speaks in magic spells, animating the inanimate, igniting the cold world with Alice’s memory. And yet, there is a haunting reality to these poems, a tenseness, the weight of death hanging over them.

She holds my hand so tightly that it becomes a grenade,

taut with cast-iron muscles and spring-loaded nerves,

then says calmly: “it wouldn’t be a good idea

to let go right now.”

I know Jen as a dear friend and fellow mystery hunter. She is a tribal poet after the Boulder heart, opening up digital and material spaces for writers in the form of “A Daily Dose of Spring Poems,” a community blog she hosts for the 30/30 (30 poems in 30 days for National Poetry Month), and in poetry salons at her NYC home which engage workshopping as well as experiment and writing games. She is currently working on her first novel, half of which takes place inside a coma.

Jennifer has been the poetry editor at Opium Magazine, a guest curator for the Literary Deathmatch, and has been published in Bat City Review, Black Heart Magazine, The Literary Bohemian, and more. In July 2013, she was sponsored to write 30 poems in 30 days in a fundraiser for Tupelo Press, and she recently participated in a (half) marathon at thepoetrymarathon.com in which she wrote 12 poems in 12 hours. At present she is on tour and will be doing an informal poetic conversation, courtesy of the Boulder Writing Studio, at The Bitter Bar on Monday, October 6th at 8pm, as well as performing her work at Innisfree Poetry Bookstore on Tuesday, October 7th at 6pm. You can follow her adventures on her blog at jenniferfaylor.com.

When the train comes they will have to tear

her ticket from my hands.

I will not be able to kiss her goodbye.

 

To eat Jennifer Faylor’s chocolates, go to trufflesbycoquette.com.

To sing a lullaby by the river for your lover’s return, turn to page 8.

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