Questions for The Palace of Crossed-out Memories
1) In the following line, what kind of nouns can be best substituted for ghosts?
“The ghosts are not here, not yet. The ghosts aren’t even born.”
a) pomegranates b) stables c) chemtrails
2) “I squinted awake in that cold, airless room while you listed the ones who hated you. I felt your glance as I sat up and twisted my hair into a careless pile. You were hoarsely describing breaking open your own skin, and your desire to break my neck. You blamed me for wrecking your music and your grades. You just wanted the others to stay one more night. You just wanted me to say yes.”
What kind of diagnosis best fits the “you” in the passage above?
3) Read the passage below, and then choose which explanation best fits the existence of “young ghosts”.
“These young ghosts, so new to the house, sweep
from drawer to sofa with tiny exclamations, pausing
at the windows, then moving to the closets, to the small
shadows under the bed and kitchen table.”
a) the aftermath of a climate apocalypse
b) a recent high-school shooting
c) an unchecked global pandemic
4) “I sat on the edge of the mattress, tying my sneakers. You were naked, as pale as a scallop shell, crying under a sleeping bag. Your room’s one window was covered by cartoon sheets, never opened. The walls were a sad suffocating yellow. Dusty spirals of cobwebs fluttered in the breeze your breath made. For the fiftieth time, we were arguing about the word love.”
In the passage above, the author uses several adjectives to set the scene. Which adjective is the most effective and why?
5) “For a few seconds, the noise and light beyond
the window calls to the ghosts. Their eyes flick as if
pulled by strings to the sparrows. The ghosts sit, stand,
pace, their faces always fixed to the fluttering.”
In the passage above, time is mentioned specifically. How does time function throughout the poem?
a) The couple is caught in a time loop.
b) Due to the enormous velocity of the characters moving away from each other, time dilation occurs, and one gains twenty years of age, while the other gains two.
c) Underwater, time stands still.
a short poem about being unable
You sit on the edge of the mattress, tying your sneakers. Weeping under a sleeping bag, I am so thin, as pale as a scallop shell. My room has one window, covered by cartoon sheets. The curtains never open. Dusty spirals of cobwebs flutter in the breeze my breath makes. The cats are not here, not yet. The cats aren’t even born. For the fiftieth time, we are arguing about the word love.
Christine E. Hamm (she/her), queer & disabled English Professor, social worker and student of Ecopoetics, has a PhD in English, and lives in New Jersey. She recently won the Tenth Gate prize from Word Works for her manuscript, Gorilla. She has had work featured in North American Review, Nat Brut, Painted Bride Quarterly and many others. She has published six chapbooks, and several books – including Saints & Cannibals.
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