rotten oasis

By Judith Goldman Judith Goldman
Treachery abounds, look
inwards! Your bird jangles its small
swing. You’re getting sleepy, very
sleepy. In a vulnerable tyranny.
Leave for now the marksmen to
their desolations, they ruin everyday
life. & luck can’t do anything
about the undying devotion of
the undead, putting their backs
to the bus shelter while
crumbs still stick to the dishes.
I guess someone is a king of France & apart
from whom nobody is a king of France. Same
rockstar, different poem. I like icons
& the toxic halos of figureheads, I like
to beat people up & rehash among the swan.
I was born in captivity, having
fucked the right people, thick
in the France of it. The uniform you
design may still be stripped & not in
some pleasant mannerism. I guess treachery
abounds & scruple keys the addresses
out of their shining wrappers. I guess gin
relieves the need for whiskey, I guess I
can think as well as talk. Come to
think of it, I spoke to your exo-
skeleton. It had been
sacked for cribbing a back salary
from your stunt double. I watched
you chewing & the human body
is a great mystery. Sun, look out for yourself.
Embody your own adaptation.
You’ve got no corner on fire
& marauders upbraid those
vehicles invisible to them.
Nobody is a king of France, licked
all over like a stamp, my every garbage at
the actual border,
making it, making it over, taking up the slack.
The bottle broke in your bag & you’re
getting flammable, very flammable. Luck
knows nothing, peels down
like a stocking & I
thought, why wait any longer,
& found myself caught in
the breast of the beast
as it staggered to carry
me up the stairs. His clothes are
dirty, but his hands are a sumptuous pyre.
What’s so perfect about a stranger,
the greasy smoke of being
swallowed up or disappearing.
I can’t carry the remainder.

Judith Goldman, “rotten oasis” from Vocoder. Copyright © 2001 by Judith Goldman. Reprinted by permission of Roof Books.

Source: Vocoder (Roof Books, 2001)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Judith Goldman

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Judith  Goldman

Biography

Judith Goldman earned a PhD in English and comparative literature from Columbia University in 2007. Her collections of poetry include Vocoder (2001), DeathStar/rico-chet (2006), and the chapbook The Dispossessions (2009).
 
The poems in DeathStar/rico-chet address the political, post-9/11 world, partly through the use of found material and fragmented language. Poet Joyelle McSweeney, in a Rain Taxi review, commented on the ways . . .

Continue reading this biography

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.