Sunday, August 31, 2008

Featured chap: Justin Goldberg: Speaking Past the Tongue

Justin Goldberg's Speaking Past the Tongue was selected by Henri Cole as part of the Poetry Society of America's New American Poets Chapbook Series in 2004. Here's a sample poem:


I was told as a child that my ancestors
had been chased from their village in White Russia,
follwed from their homes by a fallout of ash
to a dark bog on the outskirts of town.

I stand with them as they turn to look back from
the water's edge, their neighbors drawing
close enough for us to make out their features
twisted, unfamiliar, before we wade in together,

hide underwater in a tangle of limbs.
Refracted through the surface, they curse
as bullets make the severed, blood-stained
reeds dance in mid-air. We hold our breath.

A few reach the far shore, swim entire oceans.
The others cry out in bubbles, the last light
of their faces flaring as their throats burst
and betray them. I search the darkening water

for a face that is mine. Those who hold out longest
scold me with their eyes before giving in
for the line of air that binds me to my body.
I go on breathing, speak with my mouth full of mud.

No comments: