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Poetry Moment: 'The Blue Hour' by Robert Fillman

Poet Robert Fillman
Jason Martin
Poet Robert Fillman

Poetry Moment on WPSU is a program featuring the work of contemporary Pennsylvania poets. Host Todd Davis is a professor of English and Environmental Studies at Penn State Altoona.

This episode’s poem is “The Blue Hour” by Robert Fillman.

Along with his wife and children, Robert Fillman lives in eastern Pennsylvania. He’s the author of two books of poetry, House Bird and November Weather Spell, and his poems have appeared in The Hollins Critic, Poetry East, Tar River Poetry, and Verse Daily, among others. He holds a PhD in English from Lehigh University and currently teaches at Kutztown University.

Ghost stories have captivated and entertained from the very first tale told around a fire to the latest horror movie at the theater. What do they say about our mortality? How do they help us imagine a life beyond this life? At their root, these questions haunt every ghost story, helping us to express our grief in the absence of loved ones and our deep wonder at the great beyond. In his poem, Fillman uses the ritual of setting back our clocks in November for daylight savings to suggest an hour in which the living and the dead might see each other, a time of turning back the years to remember an eighth-grade formal dance or steam billowing from chimneys like souls tempted by the stars.

Here's —

The Blue Hour

Twenty years since I stood waiting
by the third-floor bedroom window
at dusk, thinking about the ghost
stories my grandfather recycled
those cold Pennsylvania days
just after we set back the clocks,
gained the extra blue hour of light,
that sacred time when the living
and the dead can see each other.

I remember the steam whirling
from chimneys like hundreds of souls
lured by stars, stretching their new wings
beneath the moon's hollow shiver,
one chance to cross over from this
realm and sail into the flute song
of silver light—caught between worlds
for less than a second, then gone.

Twenty years since I swore I saw
Katie Estan's older sister,
fourteen, dead of meningitis,
drift past my snow-shackled rooftop,
heard her song on the wind, a voice
no longer torn by fever but pink
and sequined like the gown she wore
to the eighth grade formal just one
month before. Twenty years since she
smoldered past a wobbling Venus,
dancing her way into the dark.


That was “The Blue Hour” by Robert Fillman.

Hear more episodes of Poetry Moment at

Music by Eric Ian Farmer.

Todd Davis is the 2022-23 host of "Poetry Moment" on WPSU.