Born in Yugoslavia, Charles Simic emigrated at age 15 to Chicago; widely known and respected as a poet and teacher (at the University of New Hampshire), Simic served as US Poet Laureate during 2007-08. This little poem is from The World Doesn't End (Mariner Books, 1989).
Ghost Stories Written by Charles Simic
Ghost stories written as algebraic equations.
Little Emily at the blackboard is very frightened,
The X's look like a graveyard at night. The teacher
wants her to poke among them with a piece of
chalk. All the chldren hold their breath. The white
chalk squeaks once among the plus and minus
signs, and then it's quiet again.