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Light Years Ago

Infants hold out their pants
            and sing
Sun spanks a spaceship
            light years ago
For too long I have asked
            this city to be
            great with child
and off the pace

Curtain reaches into
            me like droplets
Forward go the gears
            and the paint job ripples
To the left we pass places
            yet to be lived in
They are full of my memories
            which one day they share

All the shocks absorbed
            under jungle
Running feet on handrail
            Inverted pyramid
            of leotards
I must sleep like a watchman
            to revere the antic
There’s a provocatrice
            somewhere in
            my coat
When she rises in her sleep
            to walk
stairs, to protect her
            sleep more alertly

Find some other dregs
            is one thing to say
on the night side
            of morning
A voice with an air
            finds its way in
Puts a hold on messages
            for now
            from regret









Filters On

Smoke can schmooze hombre
            Sombrero gets
                        a second laugh
Bareheaded, nerves bald
            Kiss shelf life to death

If I could repair for you         
            this scathed armor
you needn’t the silk
I can only tell your appearance
            because it entertains you
Most other things disappear

The way you walk issues
            restfulness graced
            with flutter
Everyone, you might say
            has her own
There are filters on
            all the lights
They soak you and soothe
Why don’t I catch up
            and crumple
            the paper daily
in my hands

On my way to you I hear
            knocking everywhere
Refrigerators on landings
Helicopters outside with cameras
            Fire that smokes
            into blood
When I reach you
            the city is in woe
But the day lengthens
            No cash limbo
You are composed and still
            Planted feet point
            this way and that
Call it your dance










Pink Tab

Baloney of superstar grade
            On board with night movies
                        Man-made time so nosey

Dark enough to drive in
            Won’t bore you, my memories
                        Things don’t just happen

Notes play, I’ll be there
            You know solar? Like that
                        Now hear play of shadows

If I hear her I can see
            Now pick up pink tab
                        My pleasures blush and blush

Have to pay to cross streets
            Winter clothes not always
                        That face, for instance, profound










Night shortens
            Hollows snip off
                        How timely she glows

No sooner thought than
            you overpower
                        In weakness, voodoo

Hellos done with
            you assemble
                        far-off places

What makes me tell
            Your hand flags
                        Share a rinse

Laugh sold for sleep
            Open hand rises
                        I dream the fourstep

Look back to March
            Company waits
                        Glasses barely graze









Her Hands Double

Comedy brands tree at
            night if there is one
Rooster at the crux
            No-piano stairs

Misgive your station
            Eyes right for dusk
Beat good, needs words

As raw as silken
            No hollow glow
A one-hand storm
            Estuary smoothes

Figurative skirt
            Windlass wringer
She sings the very song
            Smiles ecstatic at flesh

I surrender waves
            Meek one side an edge
Communal meal saver
            Her hands double clean
Extend one eye at a time
            Crown off a head
Imagine mountain
            Enamor of flake
Count as lucky










Island World

Sweater of plush black
Leagues away, light banter
Female voice distinguishes
Declares invention
of afternoon reliable
Sweater comes off by then
This is island world, yo

Some backstory and then the body
My mos’ mental hands feel
the antique motif of your hem
Shoes tossed to you from trains
Clear liquids that freeze air
This is my final offer

Sentinels abound should you
need to call in thrall
Myself, I save you by hand
I want you in on escapades
Watch out, everybody’s it










Ribbon in Tree

Ribbon in tree
Pigeons hog gutter
Rare, blossoms not white

Hours flee and
then the day
Time won’t take root

Hand to forehead
How one does sob
Alone at South Pole

Gust without malice
Chest barely fills
Sanctuary smokes

This calls to love
That runs afoul
Who has my plectrum

For now, just alto
sax by itself
Mood in real time









Melody Always

Nasty dollar midnight
Your taillights to go by
Everybody’s at the roost

You taste leather in steam
Pennyworth of shade
No you don’t, siddown

Conned member
Departure seems to
be more like coming

You teach kidnappers
They know chromatics
and touch the dial

And it turns to jelly
in antechambers, all hours
There is considerable gush

That she holds her head
just so is a treasure
All the rest in her own words

They fall, like her words
Seduction of tones
Melody always tells







John Godfrey

John Godfrey wore Lewis Warsh’s deluxe midnight blue wool thigh-length winter overcoat 1970–72, while he was in California.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2015

All Issues