The Furnace

Robert Krut

The house next door is all one room.No one lives there.The house next door is one big room.A furnace in the center.Last night, I walked in.No one has lived there for years.I’m telling you now, the scarred furnace was lit.Inside, flames tethered to coals.There was nothing on the walls.Except a single painting of a painting:a room with a furnace.I am reporting back so you know.I removed the painting to find a hole in the wall.Copper wires humming a ghost harmony.Your name was scratched into the picture frame.I put the painting back.The furnace inhaled its flames.It went cold.I walked out the door to no one.I was on fire.

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Robert Krut is the author of four books: Watch Me Trick Ghosts (Codhill/SUNY Press, 2021), The Now Dark Sky, Setting Us All on Fire (Codhill/SUNY Press, 2019), winner of the Codhill Poetry Award; This is the Ocean (Bona Fide Books, 2013), recipient of the Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Award; and The Spider Sermons (BlazeVox, 2009). His poems have appeared in numerous journals, both in print and online. He teaches at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the Writing Program and College of Creative Studies, and lives in Los Angeles. More information can be found at and

In Watch Me Trick Ghosts, Robert Krut reveals a city weaving between a surreal consciousness and concrete imagination, where speakers are fully aware that “the scars of the world are turning neon” (“Accidental Light”). Among them, spirits hide and appear in tree lines, behind bookcases, even “etching a name into a street sign pole with a knife” (“You Are the Street, You Are the Sleep”). These poems skillfully veer between lyrical moments of intimacy and urgent messages seemingly sent from the negative space surrounding a dream. It may be the case that “fear is a blade held in a lung” (“The Anxious Lever of Lowering Sky”), but in the quietest hours of night, strangers can connect through striking images that cast a spell.

"Robert Krut’s poetry collection Watch Me Trick Ghosts offers an immersion into the sublime, enveloping the reader in a shroud of welcome terror. Fusing narratives of ordinary life with flashes of otherworldly awe, Krut’s speaker serves as guide and protector while we venture down darkened streets, through empty buildings, and even into a forest grown out of grief. The lines of these poems haunt with remarkable clarity. 'A Coffin is a Battery' states that, 'Fine hairs of stray electricity twitch in wind,' and 'When you come looking, I am the wires.' Whether through surreal imagery, or storylines lifted from our strangest dreams, Watch Me Trick Ghosts has a chill to rival the most ravishing Gothic novel, and the simmer of film noir."
—Mary Biddinger, author of Department of Elegy

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