Spooky Action by John Mulrooney


The delicate imprint of a bicycle tread is what these poems look like and read like.  They are magical as they avoid every unwanted impediment and make room for Mulrooney the poet.  When the wheels stop spinning, they leave a whirl of words that settle into place for even a ghost to enjoy. —Fanny Howe


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 124
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: June, 2023
  • ISBN: 978-1-953252-81-4


Einstein spoke dismissively of “spooky action at distance,” the idea that separate objects could somehow share a simultaneous condition across space and time, or what is sometimes referred to as quantum entanglement. Yet the phrase persists and serves as a powerful metaphor for the work poetry does. In John Mulrooney’s amazing new book, lyric performs this entanglement, bridging distant states of mind and registers of experience with a swiftness and a surprise that is indeed spooky. The suffering and loss of this world haunts these poems with an elemental pathos, the power of a fading logos written in the language of ghosts who still speak out of the dark in a human voice. —Patrick Pritchett

John Mulrooney’s Spooky Action takes us on a high-velocity, free-associational journey through our times. These poems arise out of a capacious imagination determined to meet and keep in mind whatever the world delivers, to make a music out of what is. Sometimes the world offers the poet an evanescent beauty, as when, for example, he sees a gust of snow that “plumes angelic” over a city street. But more often the world confronts him, and us, with no small amount of lies, myopias, loss, and suffering. Mulrooney’s poems follow our difficult human trail wherever it leads, and in the process, he widens and deepens our sense of the real, which is of course why poetry matters, and this poetry definitely matters. —Fred Marchant


Dawn, Lower County Road
Orange and silver morning
the earth hints — teases
a slow blues creeps through the trees —
television still on inside.
All night Discovery and History;
mudskippers fished upon the shore,
fox bats fucked upside down,
Turkish assassins crept on stair landings
while the emperor’s drunken soldiers were abed —
all these secrets revealed beneath
a cloud filled sky like coal on leather
until little feet of light step
one by one through the pines,
trees like one tree began to appear —
then two trees grown out of each other
then whole families of rough-skinned cousins —
Siamese twins and mother and child
sapling to adult all bent to greet
their new shadows
and the hacked limbs
where nothing has grown back
begin to appear
bulbous welts like a monkey’s ass —
the unseen world kisses the seen
but does not reveal its past;
only a new day in orange and silver
and the blue of the TV screen.
The stars are gone as if they never had been.
The trees have arrived as if they never were.


JOHN MULROONEY is a poet, filmmaker, and musician living in Somerville, Mass.  He serves as poetry editor for Arts Fuse and Boog City. He records and performs regularly with a number of musical groups in the greater Boston area. He teaches at Bridgewater State University.

Additional information

Weight 7.4 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in