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This American Ghost by Michael Wasson

Cover Art: James Tylor

Cover & Interior Design: Alban Fisher

Paperback, 38 pages

November 1, 2017, ISBN 978-1-936919-52-9


Winner, 2016 Vinyl 45 Chapbook Prize!


Michael Wasson Interviewed at LitHub


"Wasson . . . expresses an expansive sense of service to his people, and of witness to those who stand beyond the circle. From the American ghost of the book's title and the Homeric dead of its epigraph, through the hauntings of immediate family members, friends, elders, and ancestors, the poet takes seriously his task, "to grieve history." This potent phrase names history as both the object of mourning and the ambivalent process by which the survivor may recollect, recover, and restore what is lost . . . In his compact and explosive chapbook, Wasson conveys viscerally and eloquently—and with seemingly infinite compassion—the intimate legacies of this genocidal empire."

The Adroit Journal


about This American Ghost


The poems in This American Ghost address the complicated and often invisible consequences of our American expansion—the violence and history of the indigenous body as an inheritor of trauma. Whether in the grief and lingering aftermath of a loved one’s suicide, counting the pulse of the chaotic viscera when entering indigenous myth, or re-witnessing the state-sanctioned loss and tearing of a body’s mother tongue, these poems stand waiting at the border between survival and what’s been erased—these ghosts left breathing and still longing for any bloom inside the wreckage of our American conquest.


Throughout this short collection, words and phrases are braided with English and nimipuutímt, images of surrealism enter desperate realities, underscoring how language—which begins in the body as it listens to the immediate world—is the only fabric we have to dress and ultimately give shape to our wounds.


This American Ghost by Michael Wasson is part of our limited edition Vinyl 45 Chapbook Series each title of which frequently sells out within the first months of publication. Get one while you can!

This American Ghost by Michael Wasson

SKU: 0100051
  • On the Horizon

    & I said

    let there be dark

    pouring from your mouth

    at day break. Let there be

    an aftertaste in the back

    of the throat. Let each locust

    leap from the slow light

    dragged across the earth.

    Let every angel not named

    Michael ask do you not know

    the click in the mouth

    is a tear you are

    to always live in? Let the garden

    remember fire for it is you

    who will dress the wounds

    of this place. Let another god

    forget you were ever born.

    Let light begin &

    blackout from remembering

    flesh as a touch to tell you

    the skull once kissed the blood

    laced with warmth

    held a body in place years ago.

    That silence is forgotten

    between each soft blow of the heart

    until we finally stop. A name

    we never speak anymore. A head

    wound by living

    a life here. Tonight let me tell you

    human form is meant to be

    a beauty I will continue

    to ruin.

  • About Michael Wasson

    Michael Wasson is the author of This American Ghost, winner of the Vinyl 45 Chapbook Prize from YesYes Books. He is the winner of The Adrienne Rich Award for Poetry from Beloit Poetry Journal and his poems appear in American Poets, Kenyon Review, Poetry Northwest, Narrative, Bettering American Poetry, and Best New Poets. He is nimíipuu from the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho.

YesYes Books
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