the poetry that matters

John C. Goodman

John C. Goodman lives in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, Canada. He has published two books of poetry, naked beauty (Blue & Yellow Dog Press) and The Shepherd's Elegy (The Knives Forks & Spoons Press). His novel, Talking to Wendigo (Turnstone Press) was short-listed for an Arthur Ellis Award. He is also the author of the non-fiction work Poetry: Tools & Techniques (Gneiss Press). His short fiction, poems and essays have appeared in The Fiddlehead; Otoliths; experiment-o; BlazeVOX; Istanbul Literary Review; Urban Graffiti and numerous other magazines. Work is included in the print anthologies Gulch (Tightrope Books), Abandon (edits all over press), Maintenant 3 (Three Rooms Press, NY) and Road Work Ahead (Asphalt Tree Press).

excerpts from 'naked beauty'

Two airplanes crashing in mid-flight

Someone is searching for Claire
            looking under postage stamps
            and examining the dust in corners

when the nausea comes
            like fields of bluebells in the spring

is the way it iswaswillbe
forever and forever all men

“,,,if I had to be stabbed with a dull knife, I would want you to do it, for you have studied 
the technique so diligently,,,”

horizons unfold
            like paper birds
their wings wet with rain

The beauty of a dead cat
            silhouetted against the effluence of spring
wet fur matted
            lips pulled back from pointed teeth
            eyes eaten away by ants
                        dark holes ringed with dried blood
the body twisted in sensuous repose
the belly distended like a pregnant girl
the forepaws spread in amorous greeting
            a welcome to eternity

            (horizons are emptinesses)

Someone is searching for Claire
            behind sofas
            under carpets
            in the backs of cupboards and the forgotten spaces between bookcases
            through cracks in lives where the love leaks out
spilling down glittering gutters
the seduction of decay

Life is swimming in the middle of the ocean
            far from any shore
            ringed by sharks, fighting the undertow
            riding the swells up and down
            head above water
            until exhaustion overcomes
            and faintly flailing
“I tasted tears at the back of my throat,” Rebecca said.

and the lumbering behemoth
            opens its jaws at last

Someone is looking for Claire
            beneath the wheels of wrecked automobiles
            interleaved with the clauses of lapsed insurance policies
            in codas of sad songs

horizons bear the weight
            of freedom

                        and failure

disappearing over this shoulder
            or that
futures unseen dripping
            from the bells of blue flowers

dissolution claiming everything in the end
the solution to the green emergence unfolding leaves in pale spring

“If love could solve anything, it would have done so by now.”

Someone is searching for Claire
            in places she never was

the precept of all that is known
circles and revolves
with the swiftness of silence


…Out! Out! Brief candle!

the sea is an abstraction
            a muddy sketch of colour and form

what are you doing here?
            “becoming a stranger to myself. –


a mind of cinders and ash

“travelled a long road [I] [have]
from dungeon to grave

making landfall

that’s where danger dwells:
in the transition from one element to another
in the pounding of waves on insensate rocks
the rolling of breakers on dreams and shores and beaches and histories of myths and desires and legends and tales of identities and vertebrae and longing and isolation and frustration and failure and hearts broken and darkness and death and


“sought my deliverance [I?] [have?]
in the space between here and there

            (there is no space
            only spaciousness)

meaning coated my shoulders like beads of mist **
( colour/text//colour///text////colour/////texture )
)          of    of          of       of            of             (

there’s no controlling the waves
they come as they please and go

sometimes tickly bubbly froth
sometimes heavy as moods
tossing boats like angry words

there’s no control
            it’s out of control!
            [i*t’s !o}}u^t o&f c999((()))ontr++==ol!
falling falling falling
the freedom of g;sallpo sprw;lthos
the many who went before
            epp fof yjr ffrrf yjr esrtr yp;f
            just the frop lurp


there’s no stopping it
no stopping time
it keeps coming on like a bad mood
pushing us ever further into the abstraction
            of future becoming present
            of what never was becoming our reality
            of w%oo00 @ast)))((( $Wpol…

to colour (vt): the state of being perceived
[I am colour][we are colour][they are colour]

that’s where danger lies
            in the transition of moments
            bringing the unexpected
            into the border between past and future
            the no man’s land of our existence

“Out of nothing I came, to nothing I will return.”


to nothing (vt): the state of remaining a victim of circumstance.

I am nothing [he is nothing] she is nothing [we are nothing]
      they are nothing [there is nothing] nothing is nothing

“Oh set my sail for distant shores [I] [have]
            the sea is a wide rough moment
            between coastlines of the past
            and wreckage of the future


where one can be a stranger to oneself
and no one the wiser

naked beauty


naked beauty


John C. Goodman

available from Blue & Yellow Dog Press


In John C. Goodman's oscillating, never still anti-tableau of shifting visions "horizons unfold/like paper birds." Constantly observant among glints of experience and language inserted into and evolving out of the italicized "I" of these poems, it seems the transient focus of "naked beauty" exists in flux (what the poet himself calls "stream of experience") even as life proceeds on a ravishing scale "looking under postage stamps." Anywhere word glitters against word, image against image, each apt metaphor more penultimate than the last. We experience the moment and move on, dazzled, exhilerated, perpetually standing at the threshold of a glad new existence. Goodman is surpassed by none when it comes to epiphanic indulgences. He succors the pathos of the "I" of the self accusatory, the joke of the self deprecating, as though life (much like these poems) was painted in swift impasto and never forgotten.

                                                                                   - Raymond Farr, author of ECSTATIC/.of facts - Raymon Farr (Otoliths)


John C. Goodman navigates us though the real, the subconscious and the abstract like a seasoned ship’s Captain...pushing us overboard (“there always seems to be a further place to fall”) then fishing us back up (“in a baptism of beginning”) to continue on this disturbing yet enlightening voyage toward the “wreckage of the future”.

-  Frances Ward, editor of HammeredOut and Asphalt Tree Press


Too many poetry collections fail to deliver on the promise of thematic cohesion, but John Goodman's "Naked Beauty" is a coherent sequence of poems that look every bit as beautiful as they sound. For Goodman, it seems the world of consciousness is far too small, too myopic a poetic lens; instead, he turns his lines on the pivot of experience, both in the broad and highly personal sense.

-  Dr. Kane X. Faucher, Assistant Professor - Media, Information and Technoculture (MIT), Faculty of Information and Media Studies, The University of Western Ontario. Associate Editor: The Semiotic Review of Books, The Poster: Journal of Visual Rhetoric in the Public Sphere, Semiophagy: Journal of Pataphysics and Existential Semiotics, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Autopsia


John C. Goodman finds his poems in the quotidian objects, people and experiences of modern life. His poems capture the oscillating perspective of the poet's shifting italicized "I" - the transient flux of the experienced poet's identity - in which his "stream of experience" finds the extraordinary in the mundane, music amid the white noise of traffic, and beauty in the modern urban metropolis.

-  Mark McCawley, Fresh Raw Cuts, Urban Graffiti, Greensleeve Editions


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