February 2000

Brent Goodman


Brent Goodman Brent Goodman is the author of two collections, Trees Are the Slowest Rivers (Sarasota Poetry Theater 1999), and Wrong Horoscope (Thorngate Road, 1999), which received the 1999 Frank O'Hara Award. Recently published in Poetry, Green Mountains Review, Poetry East, and Passages North, he also co-edits the online journal The Blue Moon Review with David Graham.

Retinal    Click to hear in real audio

detachment. It could happen at any moment
the thin faced doctor tells me: walking across
the knapsacked campus, speeding alone
down an Indiana back road, or just lying
in bed one night half sunk in sleep—suddenly
a splash of color or explosion of light. No ache
or sharp knife throb will send me wincing
to the hospital in time to stop it. Because
something he sees through his tiny scope
is wrong—this doctor, lifting my chin with one hand
while aiming a penlight with the other, says
High risk. The only thing you can do is know
the signs. Sunburst of color, shock of bright light—
how many times already I’ve thought it an angel,
or drugs, or something in-between, and now
this—detachment—a peeling away of layers,
flesh from flesh the pink onion skin on which
the world focuses itself. How will I know
whether my sight’s tearing loose or a stairway’s
just opened before me? Will I see a figure
through brightness who’ll lead me to heaven
or the emergency room? God or atom bomb,
blind sinner or second coming—how
will I ever know the end, or the beginning?




Brent Goodman: Poetry
Copyright 2000 The Cortland Review Issue 10The Cortland Review