The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2018

All Issues
MAY 2018 Issue



Unhappy Folklore

The composition goes loopy the longer he plays
Reeds bust the windscreen
Dresses unfurl and furl throughout the Savoy
Ecstatic discipline for small fee
The beat’s only a dream unless you dance

Seventeen-chair blowout, Casa Loma
Van Vechten takes the dream to darkroom
Couples take the street as real
Liberty so momentary
Jim Crow one car behind
Drive home that third-hand Packard
past dark windows of unhappy folklore

Race to the Side eighty years on
Hands on the wheel, wheels on the shoulder
Driver’s-side palaver is racial
Dash compartment is
All conveyance is racial
Color deepens to be alive and ride
Halfway free should you die




Face States

Laws keep secrets by memory
Purple light from forehead like military exhaust
No more left arm, no more meat in stall
Fleet foot too slow for ‘tonation
Sweetness is empty threats everywhere

Cyclops takes to instruction and perceives depth
Fearful peek at skyline horizon
What if missiles were to devour
Every face states it, especially the dim

Strike a match, dark target
Don’t slice the ground like you usta
Don’t crowd bullets, breathe condiments to go
They suck buildings flat now
Keep children indoors?

Wrapped inside arms still
warm, no longer brown
Every color skin
turns the same gray




Whispers All the Time

in memory of Larry Fagin                                                          

To be outside yourself is not to be everywhere
You go home across the river, like in the song

Whispers break my heart when
I hear whispers all the time

Fastidiousness is the science for children
Never after will they be ignorant

Difference between opinions is attitude
Attitude’s a lesson in a storm

Don’t they know nuthin ‘bout vehicles?
Voices carry that I argue with

You can’t choose an older brother until
there is an exception misfits

Then he goes where many others
likewise are more than less asleep




Good Outcomes

In April you try plans
Turns into May
Best thing is I don’t know bleep

Take dressing for sun
Time after time bad target
Elevated by ungodly machine
is of good outcomes

Of all sacks what sack fits?
I call you without lines
Does anything come of no one?

And turn into sand no salt
Deep hole it all disappears
Guttural languages: lost
Sliver in tragus: rare
Armband from funeral home

Don’t go away in madness
Don’t go away too sure
What a devil says computes
Go ahead, have a hey-day
Sun squeezes into tight sky
Man walks blocks in search



John Godfrey

John Godfrey wore Lewis Warsh’s deluxe midnight blue wool thigh-length winter overcoat 1970–72, while he was in California.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2018

All Issues