paper • 102 pages • 16.95
ISBN-13: 978-1-945588-91-4

It Isn’t a Ghost if It Lives in Your Chest

Joan Houlihan

Winner of the 2021 Julie Ward Howe Award in Poetry

Houlihan’s sixth collection of lyric poems  reflects upon the persistence of what is lost and the accidental ruptures of trauma that allow re-entry into our world. These poems are at once despairing and hopeful.


in the nod of a cow, stiff-legged,
as she leaps in the paddock, drops
to her knees, then back, to roll on new grass—

The large eye caresses yours. She smells you
as you lead her through the shaded field.
Hooded and without guile, follows you

to the chute. You are the ignorance
she lives through, the heavy blade she hears
sliding into the grooves.

The secret brutalities will make patties from that
on your behalf. A human fraternity
carved out of a hung carcass.

Past Praise by Rusty Morrison in "Boston Review"
Past Praise by Chad Parmenter in "American Book Review"

…an impressive control of prosody and an arch yet tender sensibility throughout, often distilling perceptions of the physical world into exacting, resonant imagery.

With simple, bold tones, she outlines the liminalities where sleep, waking, and other universal states merge in the personal…shines with a serious lyrical burnish in which image and truth alike take on the luster of icons.