Poems

A selection of recently published poems by Erica Goss.

 

Fever Dream

 

 

I have decided

to let this

infection

till my body,

though it

may break me

as surely as

the plow

broke the prairie,

opening me

like new soil

for fine

white roots,

foreign seed.

 

First published in One Sentence Poems, Summer 2014

Yellow Curry and Peas

 

 

Later you offered me raw fish,

the wild aroma tamed in

rounds of white rice

 

and later still I watched you

inhale the fragrance behind

our baby’s ear

 

like an addict going for a fix.

How did it start?

Yellow curry and peas,

 

the back-breath of garlicky kisses

sugar crystals in the sheets,

earlobes soft as cake,

 

the armpit in its innocence

ready for the day.

We suffer well now, my cheek

 

in the crease of your neck,

nose against your throat

where your scent arranges

and rearranges me.

 

First published in Up the Staircase, August 2014

 

The Finding Spot

 

 

Piled beneath

the willows, human stash

this small wet evening

 

infant girls accumulate

like autumn leaves

and this will be

 

the finding spot

they talk about when asked

where they were born

 

oh to be wanted

here is where she rested

she was poor, she had

 

the smell of village cooking

in her hair

there was a note

 

but she could not read or write

girls are not allowed

to learn

 

some will stay in China

some will go to America

or Canada or Spain

 

some return

to the grass

in little boxes

 

First published in San Francisco Peace & Hope, Summer 2014

 

What Insomniacs Hear

 

 

The clatter of souls

entering new bodies

 

thumping hurtle of an emergency vehicle:

fluorescent bubble, full speed ahead

 

frogs and crickets

whose shrill demands for love

sift through the lead-lidded hours;

 

telepathy of dogs

across backyards

 

tree roots forcing up

suburban sidewalks

 

autumn’s held breath

winter’s all-night parties

spring’s lizard stealth

summer’s continuous shout

 

short gasps, whistles

air chunked by windmills,

water pumping up and down hills

 

the sea as it dilates across the sand

reaches the cliffs, falls back

 

the murmuring circle of heads

that hovers between me

and sleep

 

sigh of theater seats

as a small, disheveled audience

settles in for the late-night movie:

my dreams on the screen.

 

 

First appeared in Leaf by Leaf, 2013

Boden

 

 

I know it’s hard to love me;

crushed under cities

scraped from your shoes.

 

I want attention. I want

to live under fingernails

find my way into your mouth.

 

I give you monkey-flower, nettles,

the bay tree’s rising scent.

I understand sacrament.

 

Spread a blanket over me.

I banish isolation.

Take your lover right here.

 

Lie down and listen:

the dead clot within me.

I could rouse them, but I won’t.

 

I lift mountains over bones.

In the green grass of the field

take your rest in me.

 

First appeared in Hummingbird Review, 2013

 

Act of Faith

 

 

blue-pink butterfly unweaponed

in the garden

always aware of where you are

in space

 

while your children

assault

 

my flowers, I stand here hoping

to feel

the four tips of your slender black legs

on my palm

 

turn your face with its terrifying logic

towards me

 

you have a few

weeks

to play all the great

roles

 

First appeared in Bare Hands Poetry, 2013

Afternoon in the Shape of a Pear

One hundred pounds

on the kitchen counter,

shoulder-to-shoulder

like sweet, lumpy trolls.

I touch each one, feel

hidden seeds moving

and the hairy tickle

of the blossom-ends.

Something so bland

takes sharpness well:

bleu cheese,

the paring knife.

Perishable flesh

glowing like pearl

leaves sugary grains

under my fingernails.

In its lopsided heart

a lute-shaped crater

hides the worm

who, though blind

knows the importance

of being first.

First appeared in Santa Clara Review, 2012

Acquired Taste

 

 

My tongue seeks trouble,

chafe of grinding stone,

what’s swept away: the

bitter discards.

 

My tongue wants to leave

sweetness behind

like childhood. No more

mindless syrup blunting

raw edges,

 

no more disguising things

with bland counterparts.

 

Melt off the candy coating

and give me my medicine

straight. My tongue wants

 

the unsweetened life,

bread of rough grains and grit,

hard muscle of a fish

swimming upstream.

 

First appeared in Comstock Review, 2012

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