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I come off a little bit ventilated
but you must realize the material world
is constantly crumbling under my eyes
it's too much for the novel tongue I speak
the glitter of pavement in my brainstem, you
must accommodate the polytonal grimace
of the set lips becoming a smile, and
you must accept the thin section of arm
advancing across your peripheries to grip you
in pleasure, measuring feeling in your restraint
We have lived through the most furious little
chunk of history for this? that we must
unburden ourselves on night roof air, presuming
the poise and perks of champ pigeon teams
planing the evening winds

until, signaled from the roof with a flag
we become American birds

John Godfrey, "Wings" from The City Keeps.  Copyright © 2016 by John Godfrey.  Reprinted by permission of the author and Wave Books.
Source: The City Keeps (Wave Books, 2016)
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  • Poet John Godfrey was born in Massena, New York. He earned a BA at Princeton and a BS in nursing at Columbia University.
    Godfrey’s is an elliptical and lush poetry of encounter. He is the author of more than a dozen collections of poetry, including 26 Poems (1971), The Music of the Curbs (1976), Push the Mule (2001), City of Corners (2008), Tiny Gold Dress (2012), and The City Keeps: Selected and New Poems 1966–2014 (2016).
    In a review of Tiny Gold Dress for Hyperallergic, poet John Yau examines the unique way in which daily life in New York City shapes Godfrey’s poems. “Rather than constructing a narrative which culminates in a revelation, Godfrey remains open to the minute particularities and imaginative wanderings of everyday life—the multitude of wayward thoughts, musings and associations, the erogenous zone of thinking and looking.” Yau continues, “His poems teem with bits and pieces of city life,...

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