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Site design: Skeleton


Sample Poems by Jessica Goody
Jazz


Inspired by the work of Henri Matisse


Patterns catch the eye, crawling along wallpaper
and upholstery in a melange of colors and textures,
rendering the room as exotic as a harem, draped with
vivid slipcovers of Moroccan arabesques and damasks.

The wallpaper blooms humid tropical foliage,
blood-red blossoms unfurling behind the heads
of odalisques reclining on striped pillows, the divan
curving beneath them like the body of a lover.

A backdrop of vibrant fabrics curtain the room like a seraglio.
Oushaks and kilims burn underfoot as the light shines
through the lacework windows and shuttered doors,
where beaded lamps drip crystals atop runner-draped tables.

Orchids and potted plants crowd every surface, swarming
the carved mantel and bowlegged iron tables. Lovingly arranged
into precisely disheveled still-lives, the palm fronds spread their
graceful green arms to the sun, tendrils inching upward like ivy.

Joyful nudes dance along the walls. Cobalt blue outlines
like police silhouettes stretch and tumble, leap and caper.
Tinted ultramarine, the color of distant horizons,
they resemble woad-stained Celts, rangy of limb and sinew.

Matisse lies abed in his atelier, industrious as Proust,
surrounded by a sea of colored paper, scattered leaves
and whimsical shapes that might be flowers or flames,
strewn petals drifting to the floor like shards of glass.




Bitter Tea


The tea was bitter with betrayal.
Their knowing eyes met across the table,
among the sugar tongs and strawberries.
Blackflies lingered over the sugar cubes,
waved away by impatient hands.

The spoons rang against the teacups with
a chime like church bells. The ice clatters,
catching light like glaciers in a sepia sea,
melting fast under the steady eye of the sun.
The rising steam unfurls to meet the sky,

evaporating like a jet's contrail overhead,
its warm scent drifting against perfumes.
Smiling over sandwiches, his wife stirs angrily,
Her jaw strained taut with furious hostility.
The teasing frisson of electricity leapt

between their mingled fingertips. Concealed
beneath the tablecloth, She tickled his ankles
with her painted toes, her sandals abandoned
in the grass. A cool green afternoon awash with
light, drifting tendrils of windblown hair and

laughter like wind chimes, bone china gleaming
against her vermillion fingertips. The strawberries
bleed against the porcelain. The world is green and
expectant. The leaves shiver in the breeze, throwing
shadows on stippled bark. The fresh-peach scent of

the bower sweet as the summer nectar of sweat-damp
sheets, a strand of hair stark against the pristine pillow.
Her legs are crossed decorously beneath the whiteness
of the napkin stained with the blown kiss of Her lipstick.
The sunlight illuminates her shape through the voile

of Her summer dress like stained glass, lit from within.
He lingers in the curve of Her neck, kissing its white
softness and murmuring in Her ear. They whisper into
the wind, stealing secret moments of breathless
conversation, finger-painting their linked initials on the

sweating glasses and smearing them clean. The civility
of convention, the pouring of the steaming pot, leaves
unfurling. The crystal click of ice cubes clattering in
the topaz tea, sugar swirling like sand, the sharpness
of citrus filling the air. The long spoons catch the light,


winking at their duplicity. His wife worries the teabag with
a spoon, watching the water darken. The broken shards
of their relationship cannot be repaired with decorum
and cups of tea, pallid weapons against the calculating
sensuality of Her smile, as ripe and overt as summer fruit.


Revelation


Inspired by W. B. Yeats


I am swollen with your own potential,
teetering on a precipice over the sea.
While I wait, the moon ticks toward retrograde.
When the last grain of sand clears the hourglass,

you will lose me, the child-melon of my stomach
rising like a red balloon, a dream on a string.
She will tear you apart and pick your bones clean.
Later, will you climb upstairs in the dark,

desolate and seeking sympathy,
a single, symbolic candle throwing shadows
on the wall, and come to me, an afterthought?
The clandestine moon might have an answer.

I could consult the cards, the ghosts,
my moon-belly smooth and swollen as new fruit.



After Sunset


A single lamppost,
stark and attenuated,
glows against the dark.




Changeling


I knew it in the cold North Sea
of my subconscious, where the wave
of marrow-deep truth burst onto shore.

I can remember the sound of your laughter,
the candles burning blue like your eyes.
Now the candles burn low with impatience,

and the telephone sits white and forgotten
where you no longer call,
countries and waters away from where I sit.

I wait to the hold music of remembered conversations
without your shadow, your scent,
the curve of your smile to guide me.