“Happiness” by John Goode

John Goode


He found it on the side of the road, blood
smeared across its fur like a strip of red flag.
And flies filled the air,
too many to count.

Back in the war, his wife used to make sense
of things like this
in long letters he held in his hands.
But she was gone
and the generals were gone too.

The sun was there with the flies
as it had been before,
and their metallic green bodies glowed
as they dove into the wreck, their tongues
like dreams their stomachs couldn’t wake.

The dog had been missing for days;
the man had no evidence
of its nostrils smoking like guns,
or its black pelt slick with the sweat
of a hunt.

He hadn’t seen the rabbit either,
skipping out over tall weeds,
four pounds of meat, hovering in the dog’s eyes
like happiness, but he knew
it had been there.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007


John Goode: “I was standing in the back of a pick-up truck unloading lumber for a construction site. The sun was blazing down and I was reciting Lorca’s poem ‘The Old Lizard’ under my breath. I knew then I would have to leave town and write my own poems.”

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