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BLAIR'S ECHO by Kendall A. Bell

An up-front disclosure: I know Kendall in real life, and happen to like him a lot, so you can (rightfully) expect a bit of bias in this review of his chapbook, Blair's Echo, which was released by Maverick Duck Press last year.

That said, I paid for my copy of the chapbook, and would happily do so again. As I keep telling Kendall, I could easily see this collection of poems about a narrator's interaction with the ghost of the woman who used to live in his neighborhood being a novel. And I could. I can see it appealing to a bunch of teens, too, if they could get their hands on it.

It's sparse - just sixteen poems - but it contains a full story arc, from the day the narrator notices things are being moved around in his house to first contact with Blair occurs in a single poem (the first one), and the ending, which is somewhat ambiguous, leaves open the possibility of more. On of my favorite poems in the collection is entitled "Tuesday morning", and I'll share it with you:

Tuesday Morning
from Blair's Echo by Kendall A. Bell

Blair's moving things again,
opening the pantry doors and
trying to influence my choice
for breakfast. At first, I
thought she moved the blanket
to my side of the couch, but it
was the dog burrowing herself
to comfort. Blair knows I never
use a blanket in the morning,
that I like the sunlight at
9am. She's parted the coffee
curtains facing the backyard so
I can see the sun enveloping the
maple tree in the backyard,
opened the right cabinet door
where I keep my mugs and moved the
blue one that reads "Conrail" to
the front, a message to call my
best friend. The kettle whistles
loudly and I'm too distracted to
turn it off right away. When I shut
it off, the words "Good morning" with
a smiley face are drawn into the
condensation on the stovetop,
feel a hand through my morning hair.
I've missed you too, Blair, I say.
I could swear I heard her sigh.

The entire collection is excellent, and creeps up on you then sticks with you in the way of the best kinds of ghost stories. Better yet, it's available for $6 (US) plus reasonable shipping fees (about $1) from Maverick Duck Press.

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