Poetry by John Goodhue

“Studio Flower” by Sara Weininger / saraweininger.com



Excerpt from “Johnny”


Johnny said he saw someone looking like young death all over
& we figured that
Something came out of the moon & thawed into a hill

In a minute
The entire world lessens so much in the same second

Johnny said

No one notices
& that is saying heaven & getting it

He said

The motor gagged on a great fig
It sputtering sounded like a catbird way out

That sputtering turned to an installation
An estuary
It was not

Then an organ
It worked its way out to the vine & up to the pond
Then through a bivouac
We’d met the motor that mattered but it’d left long back
It did work that takes place of living
Johnny saw pulling a knife piece from a thief’s shin in the night

& became modest & was right

We noted space around the heart
Smelled like fresh figs

For the right guy

Johnny was there & heard it & did a jig
When we told Johnny it’s not the jig that matters but what it gets rid of

The workers made a tonic got us
To know this
That tasted exact & odd

& like rutabaga
Someone set out with a knife with too many things
They’d wanted to teach us
The imaginary came back a brick wall to the rest

Of us
& the cows went into grief like old goblins
In the field
Then the stalls

Then in the field
Johnny once got into the most golden portion of one heart & then another

A while later

Johnny knew enough a thing about grief to get whacked
On the tonic

& we’d bring him home like sin
Prop him near the pot
Where he woke up a lotioned version

Of the soul
All loose on the god gene Johnny was a fiend
No one had it quite straight
Until they did

For the time being
It was best to smell the roses like you weren’t ready
For them

We cleaned once in a week
Up on the scree 
Where there were all bluebirds going in packs eating porgy stuff
We limped aside the rope Johnny had

& found a world up high a place bulbed

With lack & oddness
Johnny had a god fig turned to a fig

It worked up a storm a long way out
In the field

Johnny had a man turned to a god fig & bled it out like a trout
A trout jumped like one
Or another bled out
In the pond with its hertz

Johnny’d get some menthol prepared
Until he had it good & then
He didn’t

So we went & said
How about some of that star light broth

For to reckon a bit of hell alright & went out to gather for the pot
Just out in the field

& upward
That all’s been of the same at one point or before came clear

To Johnny
A toss of clocks rung & rung & went on ringing
Ring ring we’d say

We’d say
That’d be the passage of time right there

& he saw & got gladdened
On the spot
In the mud

The beginning must have been a kind of living thing
With the whites of an eye & the love taken right out of it

Then came desire

Then the workers like a young buck learning skeet
Then was Johnny 
The passage of time made able
Like a dwarf

Cattled for like a good batch of sense down the walk
In the dark
There was the walk lead to the pew & farther out in the fog

We’d take the darkness from the dark
From the dark in the light
One day
We took it

Johnny’d get cold about the birds
Pulling out his dross bag to show us what else can be
Got haggling

About the arbor
He jumped up & down on the dulcimer until all night it became

The next thing it became

Was a magick like a young achieveless man
Pale from figs in dawn light traveling

Past itself, then past the lathe, then to cows mooing dark moos 
Out past the vine
Beyond where there now was a knifed one
Losing hertz

The motor was making awful good noise
We’d tend to bid time’s passage the way most bought it
With desire & guessing
Johnny was once a dud run into love & then changed

In the moon
He took it like a thief takes out a knife
He took it out on the dulcimer & the sound made the sound made

When wit's perfect aside loss
& pipes up

& comes undone

Way out we saw a fig move & made a mess
To a toad

We did that

But in reverse
We took its guts like a string puppet up into the fog


John Goodhue received an MFA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. A finalist for the 2020 National Poetry Series, recent work of his can be found in REALITY BEACH, Quarter After Eight, Seattle Review, and elsewhere. He resides in Portland, OR.