Two Poems
Benjamin Goldberg


Is as much an unfaithful man as a lost city.
Even his wife tried to warn him: Now that
you’ve had your little moment with the ocean,
end it.
In such legends the moon is confidant
to both the egregious and the aggrieved:
a god’s eye woven by the guilty man’s,
ready to wink the moment doubt fills him;
the private eye his wife never hired
settling the yellow lens of its reflection
over the wave her husband would’ve left
her for had it only agreed to carry him
anywhere but ashore. It’s said each morning
left new traces of the ocean’s persistence:
strands of seaweed clotting the river rock
shower pan on which Atlantis and the ocean
washed each other in his wife’s absence,
smudges of sand on the cobalt backsplash
against which he’d thrust into the ocean
repeatedly, a palm leaf shed with calculated
neglect beside the bed, bits of seashell
sprinkled on the sheets. What wife worth
weaving into stories wouldn’t know?
She considered calling the ocean, even left
a message or two of menacing breaths.
It’s said when she invited the ocean into her
home, she mixed it an offering of coffee
and something a bit stronger, that the table
was yet another ocean across which
she stared the ocean down. Atlantis bobbed
listlessly between his loves as they took
turns carving maps onto his body. The end
is settled with a coin toss. Heads: she listens
from the stairs as he snores into his pillow.
Tails: he’s sunken someplace off the coast
of his back, already a legend for being lost.

Red Eye

I’d need to draw box cutters across my eyelids
to see the city that 3:00 a.m. pulls out of me:
a whore’s bath in a gas station men’s room.
Moth clouds. Moon ruins. Broth of lamplight
ladled over the foggy sidewalks up which
a woman wearing trash bags drags a cinderblock
on a leash. I’ve looked. The closest this city
comes to having an oracle for me is a cocktail
waitress with “piano fingers,” a saint’s name,
and my sins tipping her tongue. I’ve no excuse
for the dreams I fill skylines of half-darkened
windows with. Every light flickering off
tonight suggests illicit sex and I fall in love
with at least ten women I’ll never meet.
There’re so many ways to be good that I can’t
find a good one. I rescue a cartoon gospel
from an airport trashcan and land farther
from the afterlife it offers. The moment
my eyes zig from a page of stick-figure psalms
the god hiding inside it jets into the flight
of pigeons strutting the tarmac. I’ve known you,
the furtive eyes and the shadow jacketing
my shoulders in the bathroom mirror, cabin
all emergency lights and takeoff. I’ve known
you all of sixty seconds. I’m wondering
why you’ll never make love with me again.