I have a wound in me from you
and I can’t tell you about it,
I can’t talk about it, I can’t
mention it. Only write a poem
about it. Only a poem about it.

My life. I can’t see it. I can’t
pray, change, function, breathe,
I get nervous staring at the
white walls, trying for some
reflection, some light, something.

I can’t save you, I can’t lift you
I can’t stand you. I hate the slashing
of your sword or the confusion of
different rhythms, whatever the fuck
it is, the strain of too much contact.

This was going to be a rage poem but
I’m not full of it right now. My piss stinks
but that’s o.k. This is just a symbol, it has
no bearing on my poem. My poem is a fantasy
about me in actual life, while I sit here, watching.

She’s in there, lost in her own thoughts about
taxes, while I’m in here, never thinking of
taxes, refusing to care that they’re sucking
my money away. It makes me feel like a child
in here, as the trains pull away and the planes fly.

I’m in a regular bind but I can get out. Not enough
sex but stones aren’t piling up on me. It’s just
evolution, change and decay. And I can watch it all
fall down through a puddle of death, wading through
a trough of my own making, a sewer, a river.

Guiding my pole down a carnivorous passageway, guiding
my pole, my soul, down a passageway of life leading to
the end, the inevitable end, the conclusion where the meaning
is presented like a symbol. A wafer on a string or a medal
indicating whatever you want it to indicate. But I’ll always
vote for piss on the floor and blood in my hands and a stain
on the wall, always the stain. And I’ll sit in a chair and be
happy, knowing how it ends, appreciating the craft of it all,
all the precision. The care with which. The care with which.
The ending is complete and my raft sails down the grey river.

Image credit:Mason Kimbarovsky

Douglas Goodwin's books include Hung Like a Hebrew National, Half Memory of a Distant Life, and Slamming it Down. The latter two include a foreword by Charles Bukowski, who championed Goodwin's verse and corresponded with Goodwin over several years. Much of the Goodwin-Bukowski correspondence appears in the feature "Letters to Douglas Goodwin" in the 2015/16 edition of the Charles Bukowski Society Jahrbuch 2015/16, edited by Roni and Sönke Mann, out of Bamberg, Germany. Goodwin also collaborated with poet Steve Richmond on the literary magazine stance in the 1980s.