May 1, 2021

Christopher Goodrich

SAY IT WITH A MIX-TAPE

These are the professionals. The ones who know
why birds suddenly appear every time you are near;

the self-assured idols who can ask Do you
want to know a secret oooooo waaaa oooooo?

without sounding stupid. I’ve begged
them to tell us why secrets are

given as gifts in obvious packaging.
So much of falling is sitting still, filling

a blank tape with voices of famous people—
the mystic warbling of Joni Mitchell,

the simple sex of Simon and Garfunkel.
This is what it sounds like to be me in love with you.

And because only Ray Charles, who sings from both sides now,
can translate my heart’s handwriting, I’ve included

two of his numbers, see side A, songs two and nine.
He will insist, as many times as you care to listen:

I’m gonna love you like nobody’s loved you come rain
or come shine, which, incidentally, is true, I’m gonna.

The Mix-Tape: proof that love loves James Brown, the reason
we turn to Nina Simone when sex fails to fulfill us,

why, when harmony is what is missing,
a light rhythmic rain begins to fall.

from Rattle #24, Winter 2005

__________

Christopher Goodrich: “I began writing poetry to impress the mothers of girls I was interested in. Twenty years later I’m sitting across a breakfast table from Gerald Stern and he asks to see my work. Finally, one afternoon, months later, I show him a poem and after an excruciating silence, he says, smiling, ‘Good. Not as good as me but …’ I told him in no other medium could I express my fever. He asked to see another.”

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