John Goodhue is a graduate from Western Washington University. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Cleaver Magazine, Spoon River Poetry Review, Knockout Magazine, and burntdistrict, among others. He currently resides on Bainbridge Island.
Watching a friend’s house,
I feed the cat, empty garbage,
find in the study a photograph,
where a thicket
of banana trees, greyscaled, is
burning. Toward the viewer,
a man carries a leg
from thigh down,
his sunken palms spread
from ankle to severance
as if guarding an only rifle.
The leg—its bone spurs,
its stippled flesh—like a godsend,
born of some greater absence.
Behind, I notice
what the fire has not engulfed:
several figures bowed in bright pools,
a lady donning an apron,
a child chasing a dog,
and the meaning of this—
there is no sky for a body
to leave into; the heft of being
is not a pretense.
I notice the man’s stare
could too be a map
of more than just bones,
or how he could be saying
“hallelujah” just the same
In this version, a man dies
arms trussed between swathes of trees
and the space occupied for
their decay. A cairn becomes you
to consider both you and the moon
befriend first the corpse, then the reason.
And when one considers things still breed
as skin rescinds. And when one considers what is tried
in a world whose momentum is love of … And when no one considers
what god is rendered by scarcity.
And when considered is this man, beside a thistle plant
a sudden flutter in the chest
suggests the mouth suggesting –
the body becoming food.
And you, now cradling his figure,
a quality, an antiqued linger of life once assuming, or how
you hold up his arm in space as though it filled none, the poor flesh,
the weeds burgeon wrongly, everything
burgeoning, wrongly. These trees
preserving too many raw moments.
The river hulling those moments into sounds
which retain little but kernels of
their indifference. Everything suggesting famine
as you undress the body, ready its milking
and above, the stars, like a hunger,
like this hunger, query what parts you remove