the poetry that matters

D.B. Goman

D.B. Goman has lived in India, Turkey and Israel; he currently lives in Canada. His poetry, stories, and travel essays have appeared in various journals including Quarry, Poetry Montreal, Jones Av., and Eye Magazine. He has just completed his first novel, and will be putting out a collection of poems next year.






veined petals growing

in her math of pubic hair

coiled round his wrists

like second-hand cuffs


love a plotted bed

hiding kitchen knives

for tomorrow's failed

escape from a hard cell


arms parallel, moving

like metallic slide rules

across curved space,

timed for early release


legs splayed perfectly

in forty-five degree angles

keep him in the equation

cut hard into succulent skin


slick calculations on finger

tips impressing the within

warden, covered in their salt,

living for the controlled watch


the geometry of spent

shapes calibrating inside

holding bars that only count,

where repeat patterns form








                                                                     The Visible


                                                                         - It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances;

                                                                              the mystery of the world lies with the visible not the invisible.

                                                                                                                                                             O. Wilde




The arc of your liquid spine

and the tempo of my irises. Enlarge me,

hardened necromancer. A torso scorched, a boil

calmed. Optic fumaroles nerved to the core.

I don't have to see your coral thighs from thin air

to well up and stagger in the sun. Your veins

fork, flowing from peaks and caverns crystal clear

mirrored in the back of my eyes. Pour

into me and I'll keep pumping out

my short breath into your long venting neck.

Your shelled feet flood me with fish

fertile in a spectral splash. I swim with them

against natal currents till I belly up with frogs,

burning in a heatwave, clawed by the taste

of salt disgorged from your amphibious knees.

A look up or down your renewed skin

and lids lift and roll, the beauty breaking

in waves, seismic, growing tall, blocking out

pain or pleasure, emptiness or the full cup,

when pupils are pooled nickel needing

the tilt and the spin, invisible but turning

the leaves on. The trees your womb

for the symphonic dirt and petalled nipples,

the buzz in the bark and the sheltering clouds

flying away. The changing color on the horizon:

your cheeks setting softly; tempera elbows

shaping a dune; epochs of song birthed

in your iron-oxide buttocks. I keep poking

for the wet in my dried sockets, trying 

to hold on to how I remembered you.


And once, I prayed. Let there be

a God or gods. Vindictive and brutal.

Or just out there in the wind or the sky

or the blinding cold - me on my knees mumbling -

Don't leave us alone with ourselves, hanging

still from a branch, unreal in glassy waters below, 

not hearing the others, not learning how to move

in a delicate web. Stuck by our own magic

syntax, a loud chrysalis eaten by widows before

the crack. To the stars I repented or read

the psalms of gravitational orbits. My head

bowed, wondering if it would matter when

I was dead and my stone was hot in the sun.

Should I care when no one was beside me

any more to touch me or lower my lids?

With the worms burrowing in, returning me

for another grave erosion. I wanted to rise up,

to be heard, to feel the sacred sigh, the rib

unlocked, the wine alive on my drained lips,

the sexton shocked, mounting the cross. But

the bells didn't peal. I could only stare forever

and feel nothing in the din of laughing priests

murdering their flocks from capital offices

pearled; their kings and queens, reclining

and revered, driven away in a Bentley. Shutters

to smiles, teeth bared, at flashing cameras -

retreat to bucolic estates far from their factories;

servants bathe and massage them in whale oil,

feeding them tiger-cub hearts to make them feel

strong and special. With my eyes closed, I prayed

for a miracle once, certain of my power, not

listening, wiping the soot from bifocals fused

on my running nose. The limits of reaching out

to a burst of ultraviolet. Will I ever know what I see? 

Kneeling, curled up, did that matter then?


Is it enough now? For me or you or the silent

organisms beneath the glass? A shared microscope

perfect to reveal her used body in deep detail?

Patterns in the light, a story in a petrie dish. A system

broadcast on television. A video blogger breaking down

the meaning, Venn diagrams for the environment

in a box, a pie graph for the cut in the economy.

A remote arm dancing in space, radiant, controlled,

rapidly at the center in a new suit. A fixer wrestling

with naked numbers, altared statistics, winning,

slamming us down on the hot mat. Eyelashes pinned,

carbon-fiber hands high in the methane, a logo flaring

deep, synaptic in mad men and women, framed

in the skull, a tunnel of telescopes magnifying new

paradises. Will they be lost too? The cornea corroded

then pulverized. Can our universes be re-versed?

Like simple binoculars showing the very near:

a litter of puppies in a season of grief; squirming

maggots healing yesterday's wounds; a salamander

licking a new limb; osprey talons piercing the translucent

top; beetle dung nursing the bounty seeded in a delta's

honey hair; a mosaic of reindeer lichen in the alpine tundra.

Looking far, tiny, but in reach. The touch, then the turn,

is that the trick? The angle and exposure. How long?

Will the paleozoic shark stop prowling at the apex?

Who's ready for the next selection? What will love or be

loved? The killer volcano or the continents swallowing

us whole? Can we cherish the mites in this layered bed

of pythons? To molt in a cell with a torch? Who survives

the thirst of the Himalayas, their rising seizures

attacking coasts long mute? Will the roaches cry

because they’re all alone? The tears of Antarctica

won't be enough for a stoic Sahara. Storm-whipped,

who will I look to? Sand building, blowing, burying

the corona beneath the lashes. Will mysticism shine through

for shadows in an arterial cave? Will Marxism rearm

my will to bleed at the retina? Will I be forced

to crawl when it's too late, a hearing aid for the dark

echo of dripping water? Will that be enough of a lens

to restore my sight? Will the surgeon aim accurately

with a laser? Or will I need a white cane and sunglasses

for the macular bruise? Will everything be clear

or scleral when I finally project the pictures, focussed

at first, old and young, large and small, suddenly smeared,

bleary at the edges, then all fuzzy and grey,

formless, fading away in a singular switch.








                                                           Hotel Groningen    (for M.)


                                                                               -- paradise is a place to visit not to live in.



I will remember you -

in this spartan room rented - secretly -

for epicurean carving even meditational

Vermeer - still covetous - couldn't touch

with his brushes - hungry for the rich

color textured - your hair streaming through

my fingers - a map to luscious clouds pinned

on twin beds - in chiaroscuro - we pushed

together - light cutting through drapes -

shadows blending our legs intertwined -

an updraft of white cotton - holding on

to each other - springs sprung in jazz

fusion - your tongue a windmill - my ears

eggs - cracking - a vase of tulips forgotten -

your scent everything - rivers of champagne

in a deep gorge - my hand an oar - in orbit

my mouth - those buttocks Bosch knew

rise - a spear into vowels - nova of storms under

the stretched skin - our sweat beyond the molten

heart - the striated head - boiling over -

my nipples into yours - the knees uncapped -

the back in front - dark pupils in a rip - wanting

it to last - naked to the horizon - swallowing

the jelly fish - not caring about going under -

oxygen in your thighs - murdering sleep forever -

the sacred press of gravity - falling on the floor -

the beat below the breast - wading in - a pool

getting louder - the bends - bubbles popping - still

not the conjugated shore - waves rolling in us -

Persian carpet calm - halo of sand pipers - cheek

on my belly - warped, expanding - liquid clocks

alarming - waking up again - a famished room


Too much sleep in other rooms; days spent

dumb in a dream. Dopamine from running

tvs, amazing colour in routine black and white.

This or that, us or them, parts in crystal focus,

packaged on a line. The ugly under a thick crust

of cosmetics. Celebrities in sparkly lingerie sucking

their thumbs just for us. Babies dolled up to sell

more candy. Manufactured Bitches doing it, flood-

lit in a studio for democracy. Transvestites confessing

to tenured terrorists hijacking the language for fat ooh-

la-la. Magic smoke. Bam, pow, boom in briefs, boxer

enflamed, covered even in fading print. Front page, brave

new news, a picture of luxury we all need. We'll bleed

for the fuckers that fuck us over for the fucking finger

raised fucking high in the fucking sky. The bigger back-

yard, another golf course in the desert, more roads

to abandoned buildings, too many toys crowding out 

the basement, a priest in the dank corner, glue sniffed

from his rings reserved for the conquered. Power,

the almighty, in an infomercial. Shutting it down,

only panic. Bug-eyed in a blackout, exposing

the negative in a silver bath. Character development

cut from a surgical inventory: viewer-discretion toenails,

hairs sprouting from Mickey Mouse ears, a blockbuster

belly a flop, cellulite reruns, and syndicated crow's-feet.

Slash my soft wrists, love, then call the Keystone Kops;

I want to hear those silly sirens when the light floods.


Now back away from the two-way mirror - sink

into my wounded arms - this is how we melt down

into the ground - hands hungry - before the walls fall -

rubble at our feet - another quake - a mountain of dust

gathering - your forehead warm to mine - our breath

climbing to the top - ribs breaking - we should run

to the streets to riot - too hot - the toilet overflowing -

wanting to kneel to spit up blood - garbage piling up -

how queer to burst into song - listen to the rhymes

of your heels in my palms - the salt on the buds -

my chest clear-cut - a shower of tears - coughing up

the grime - washing away the future - the windows

to the past shattered - the canal by the park - buried

beneath the brow - all alone - holding severed limbs -

playing in the fire - awakened lovers - it's so dark

out - no one left to hate - your face a quiet landscape

I live in - will the sleep kiss or kill - our eyes open wide














The Biggest Dwarf




I wasn't born small. Age didn't shrink me

when I lost. You with your poison, dragging

me down into this ant-hill society. Crushed,

the mirrors in your eyes made the tiniest army

to colonize the cells. The brutal betrayal, back-

bone battle, craters at the hips, dislocation

with your girl-scout smile, vertebrae ground, 

the dust for a new distraction, compression

of veins and arteries, another lover's hands

sawing away, the skin burned, tracked carapace  

for semi-terrestrial fins. Slow, the growth inside

eating at my stomach, the paralysis of the throat,

a tongue unable to plot the air, vertigo from high

up the boxed-spring mound. Chewed-up ears,

bulging irises swarmed with antennae in a panic

when the ticking seems to end. Captive, I'm thrown,

a grenade into memory, razor-wire at the split toes,

my deformities spinning against the earth's tilt.


The politeness another death, ignoring my raw

diminution. Loving the laughter of strangers, patting

the head when I lose my balance again. Deserving it

for my silly faith, an unnatural selection. Their next step

I want heavy on the coded fingers till there's only one

feeling and that's all there is, a solitary gene filling up,

absorbing the universe's indifference so nothing's left

to call anything anything. This terrarium unreal, its glass

not a lens; the fired arthropods not crawling into wet

corners of my eyes; my nose not wanting the honey

of peonies, not breathing in sand, not ugly, a circus

attraction. One disfigured foot clumsily out in front of

the other, underrated. Stump legs shaky, wooden, stolen

from a ruined marionette. Even blending with the freaks -

interplanetary boys, elliptic at Galaxy Donuts, 2 am - out

of the question. I'm too big in my messed-up molecules.                                        



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                                                                                                              October 19, 2013