ISSUE SIX
February 1999

Brent Goodman


THE CORTLAND REVIEW

INTERVIEWS
 
Henry Taylor

POETRY
 
Mark Bibbins
  Sharon Cumberland
  Philip Dacey
  Daniela Gioseffi
 
Brent Goodman
  Mark Halperin
  Ben Howard
  Stellasue Lee
  Linda Lerner
  John McKernan
  DeWayne Rail
  David Rigsbee
  Peter Robinson
  Terry Savoie
  Joseph Stanton
  Mary Winters

REVIEWS
 
David Grayson

TRANSLATIONS
 
Lloyd Schwartz

FICTION
 
Rosa Shand
  Daniela Gioseffi

Brent Goodman Blue Moon Review's Brent Goodman has appeared in Poetry, Tampa Review, Poetry East, Passages North, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Puerto Del Sol, Zone 3, and Cream City Review.  His forthcoming collection, Trees are the Slowest Rivers won him the 1998 Sarasota Poetry Theatre Chapbook Contest, and a 1998 Wisconsin Arts Board Artist Fellowship Award.
Inspirational Paperweights    Click to hear in realaudio


are heavier than Mennonite bibles, more elegant
than baby alligator head letter holders, solid
as prayer, calm as clear stones. Inspirational
paperweights will never lose their shape, will anchor
a note to your desk even with all your windows
thrown open against wind; come pre-inspired
with a favorite psalm or Norman Rockwell Jesus,
your name or names of those who wait at home.
Inspirational paperweights will never arrive C.O.D.,
never tarnish, crack, fade, fog or yellow: when arranged
carefully across your desk, each torn scrap will finally
stay, every small and daily list weighted with meaning.





Emancipation Day: Negril    Click to hear in realaudio

                            for C.K.


We're out of bulla cakes, Alfred, and one of the natives
has stolen your blue pocket ace right off the beach

where you practiced handstands in turquoise surf.
The shirt off a man's back! Dinner will be half

jerk chicken, festival, ginger beer and a Ting to go.
Then the ocean, sand ghost stingrays slipping

over our toes. Let our skin burn and peel away
like almost transparent maps of an earlier life,

let us grow darker the longer we forget our fathers.
I want to survive a hurricane, plant myself

before my shattered house wielding a curved machete
and take wild swings at the barefoot looters stepping

closer. But we're not of this language. Our words
clatter and fumble like a handful of foreign coins.

Maybe we'll transcend ourselves like stunned lovers
parasailing the jagged reef. More likely not. Instead

we'll track sand around a rented cabin for the maid
to sweep tomorrow. And tonight, returning from the sea

to rinse our feet in the great basin set on the stoop,
we'll spook a sandy-eyed cat drinking there: a question

quick in her spine; chewed ears, skittish, ribs
showing through like a wrecked and empty boat.

 

 

The Museum of Famous Outerwear   Click to hear in realaudio


Inside: Molière's mole hair
hand-me-down raincoat
slouching on a wire hanger.

Inside: Rimbaud's wool trousers reeking
smoke fish, tobacco and blood,
a tangled knot around his ankles
as Verlaine snarls into a gray pillow.

Inside: Frank O'Hara's torn khaki swim shorts
still screaming in the boudoir.

Emily of lace and long dash,
your pilgrim bonnet, your pursed lips,
a simple bow tied at the throat,
one thousand simple knots, we couldn't find
any of your clothes, we could not dig our way
any deeper into that recipe coffin.

Lorca left nothing but a rumor of knives
scraping a dirt road, the sky crowded
with shuffling, somber cattle.

Who will press and fold Burrough's Tangiers overcoat
before washing his tall skeleton with kerosene?
Who will finally arrange those scattered knuckles
neatly in a row?

Inside: who will choreograph the lighting
for Plath's last house dress, fluorescent
and domestic, the sky blue collar worn thin,
transparent as a veil she would lift to her mouth?

And who will reassemble Piccaso's shattered cravat
to exactly resemble the fractured voice
he wore loosely at his throat?

 

 

The Commute    Click to hear in realaudio


My entire family has taken up residence in a depression-
era office building downtown and now roam the gray halls,

sleeping on wool couches, dreaming in low fog off the great lake.
Now they speak to each other through an elaborate network

of pneumatic tubes hidden behind the walls. Finally a place to catalog
the ghosts, handwritten lists and a congress of stuffed chairs.

The most fragile inheritance: a thousand mirrored windows, my small
reflection in each. Tonight I approach the city through an interchange

of horn blast and brake light, the sun draining pink over coal barges
and mountains of salt. The air thickly sweet with hops and chocolate.

In the distance, the first silhouettes are already waving.

 

 

Brent Goodman: Poetry
Copyright © 1999 The Cortland Review Issue SixThe Cortland Review