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Three Poems by Nicholas Goodly

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

Cabin Named Laura

I bring my hands to a splintered piano  

feed the music its own teeth

Erroll Garner kneads the air

pretending to sleep 

soundless black bear

picking the locks 

two boys run in circles

around a pile of sticks

branches in their misty hands

little metaphors in a field

they are constructing a tower

or breaking it down

I wait a day


nothing deserves love

especially the way I’ve loved it

Mail-Order Bride: Judy

His human-sized wooden package waited for him

in the empty corner of his loft.

She’s arrived! in all her glory,

packed in polystyrene peanuts!

Her profile:

How exciting you are concerned about me. I am lucky.

If you could you would rest your head in your own lap.

I was married eight years ago but died on impact. After,

I was originally lonely. Unleavable me. And then there

was that season. Earn me several burns. Making the bed

cures an unmade bed. I would like to forget and you

are here concerned about me. I am looking for a man

who believes in everything from chewing to star. You

have seen precisely what your body can do. Watch moon?

Is she full? Is she sexy? I trust you know how to have me.

If you could how fearfully would you kiss your own cheek?

With love in his heart,

he grabbed a crowbar, cracked open the box,

and out leaped a hundred singing grasshoppers.


Now if your heart was as big as your mouth, you’d be real


nine dogs

from the water

this means something

if you want it to

forgive the bones

in your psychic

womb of a mouth

clairvoyant sets of

crystal fang

mercy is inevitable 

let the dogs

mean the water

intuitive ripple

mercy is a womb

intelligent dark animal

brilliant shattering teeth

healing is persistent

as you need it to be

fuck penance

its canine obedience

and stalking gait

let your angel

off the leash

be the damned thing

then set the damned

thing free

finally the water

the smell 

of divinity 

silvering sky

and wet skin 

pure howling heart

there is no one  

left to hide 

mercy has a shadow

you ask the moon

for your reflection

she gives you

her last breath

Nicholas Goodly is the author of Black Swim (Copper Canyon, 2022). They are a member of the performing arts platform Fly on a Wall and assistant poetry editor for The Southeast Review. Nicholas was a finalist for the 2020 Jake Adam York Prize, runner-up for the 2019 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, and recipient of the 2017 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship, among other awards.

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