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‘Look Out Tree’

Two ghosts sat in a tree gusting songs and talking,
yakking about the moon round as a bullet hole.

The sky is soldered black, yet to be opened by dawn,
thunk it with clods of earth and know it never will.

Everything but those ghosts has stopped. Grass stopped
dog stopped tree stopped whole turning world stopped.

I can’t quit chattering. Teeth are going like guns.
Like the ones yelping into the wind all night long.

The ghosts are pretending to eat a chicken
they lick their fingers, burp, its a bad joke

I can’t stop, can’t stop thinking thoughts like comets
they run out a head of me and clunk the black sky.

The ghosts are pretending to shoot each other
they click their fingers, bang, it’s a bad joke

I can’t quit twitching. I twitch a thought that was once
an idea inside a boy look out for soldiers.

Three ghosts sat in a tree, sing a song, pluck a chicken,
throw light at that stopped up sky.



“This poem was written in response to the Poetry School’s online course, The woods are lovely, dark and deep: Articulating Death. I was sitting in the British Library looking at images of war for several days as I researched another project. I then closed the books, and wrote this poem.

A few days after I writing the poem, I went to a musician friend’s studio to improvise some music and he asked if I had any lyrics. All I had to hand was ‘Look Out Tree’. We made it into a song and you can listen to its first recording here:


  • Lydia Popowich

    Great poem, love the way you use language and the intense atmosphere. It reminds me of a short story by George Saunders. Powerful song too!

  • cmharkavy

    Love this, Rebecca, your choice of words is really inspiring.

  • Madalena Fine

    This is a fantastic poem Rebecca. I love the contrast between your movement, the ghosts and the stillness of everything else.
    I couldn’t hear the song but will try on another computer.

  • David Tanguay

    where I walk two old walnut trees lie, one has lost its limbs, the other has fallen. their images go round in my head looking for words, nothing yet.
    The ghosts of your trees may help, I like the thought of ghosts talking in the trees.

  • Pascal Langlois

    I’m really enjoying this. Enjoying the language, the contrasts, the dark humour. It brings to mind the dark folk of the “Dead Rat Orchestra”, and the alternative view of the land as something formed from death and struggle, rather than the Wordsworthian idyll.

  • justine

    I like this poem, it reminds be of breaking into Brighton cemetery
    after hours, yes they do lock it, to put flowers on my mothers grave
    and the strange feeling it gave me to be breaking into such an odd place. I could believe in ghost picnics after that.

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Image Credits:

Image: Montreal Botanical Garden in Winter

Image credit: Andre Vandal