Robert W. Crawford


Talking to Dead People on Television

The audience in psychic John Edward’s TV show, Crossing Over, is extremely eager to hear what the dead have to say.
—TV Weekly

Do people really want to hear the dead—
from some omniscient, privileged point of view—
communicating through a medium’s head?
I hope the dead have better things to do.

We cherish memories. We speak no ill.
What if they don’t live up to that same standard?
Are we so sure time spent as spirits will
turn our departed kinder, milder-mannered?

There’s fantasy. Then there’s reality.
If free to sneak about in the hereafter,
can you imagine what the dead would see?
Let’s label it for what it is: disaster.

“I did appreciate the funeral, but
the ceremony was a little short.”

“The plywood coffin lid was barely shut
before you booked a flight to that resort!”

“Your Connie doesn’t fit into my gown.”

“And Roger, don’t forget that one small favor…”

I thought we buried loved ones six feet down,
In part, because we wanted them to stay there.

Robert W. Crawford has published two books of poetry, The Empty Chair (2011 Richard Wilbur Award), and Too Much Explanation Can Ruin a Man (2005). His sonnets have twice won the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award. His poems have appeared in many national journals, including The Formalist, First Things, Dark Horse, The Raintown Review, The Lyric, Measure, Light, and Forbes. He co-founded the Hyla Brook Poets, and is a long-time member of the Powow River Poets of Newburyport, MA. Currently, he is the Director of Poetry Activities at the Robert Frost Farm in Derry NH, and coaches football at Pelham High School. He lives in Chester, NH, with his wife, the poet Midge Goldberg.