New Voices

 Ghost stories 
By Nixi Schroeder 

I am 13 when I have my first paranormal encounter: 
a whispered moan fizzling in the wind like a holler from a car window— 
“Ay girl, lemme get that pussayyyyyyyyy….”

My father does not believe me. 

I am sixteen and it happens again, this time 
“Nice tits.” My mother explains 
this is a common psychic phenomenon. 
I am seventeen when a spirit at Wal-Mart asks what I have in my jeans; 
my boyfriend says this is a compliment, says  
I am lucky to hear such spirits speak.  

I am nineteen.
A wandering sprite asks if I want to get a drink. 
When I decline I am haunted for three hours 
through cafés, narrow streets, and alleyways by 
a shadow presence marked in eye corner glimpses. 
I do not go home for fear of the Ouiji board. 
I do not go to the police: 
the police do not believe ghost stories.  

We all know a girl who wasn’t believed. 

We’ve all been the girl who wasn’t believed: 
I have a friend whose ass was grabbed in a frat, a ghost hand 
leaving finger bruises as an invisible mouth suffocated her scream—   
she tried to call the ghostbusters but was threatened with retaliation, 
like so many girls are threatened with retaliation—another friend 
was the victim of possession— 
held down in her bed until she shrieked in silent tongues; 
the police asked why she was not carrying a rosary;  
her mother is still making monthly payments to an exorcist
who has not told her to speak 
because he knows 
her voice is still another’s 

We all know victims of possession.  I have an aunt 
who has scars across her cheeks from where her husband marked her 
as a possession; 
the police told her to stay in a haunted house 
to protect her children, 
now even after the restraining order she still receives visitations, 
her husband’s spectre rattling the chains which bind 
so many women, and  
at the end of this poem I will hear a harsh
voice, whispering “not all ghosts,”
whispering “quit being so dramatic—

one in five women are always so dramatic”
and I will say, no, not all ghosts.
Not all ghosts,  

Nixi Schroeder is a MA student of English at Truman State University.  Her poetry has been featured by The FEM, Eyedrum Periodically, Spectrum, Red Dashboard Press, and Windfall Magazine, among other publications.