John Godfrey

Only My Alibi

Death as knockoff
                                CK briefs
Life as blood salad
                                 on butt sag
Keep colors inside
                                 the lines after dark

Others come first
                              at the sendoff
They lick fingers clean
                                         bump fists…
Where’s the switch
                                 to turn up the novelty?
Room becomes a patio
                                      with outdoor shower
Use the baby as a towel
                                      make the breadline do time

I refuse the loaded pillowcase
and walk through the closed green door
I dirty the window and pray to the sink

Ill repute reads my name
             out loud off its tablet
I catch up with my ears at a run
            Tone arm rumble lullaby
That’s only my alibi
             I’m out of there

No song without
                              a language for it
Spiky notes
                     without rote
Beside a river
                         or beside myself
there are angels
                             with open minds
To discourage them
                                   I offer my pride

My One Ear

Sometimes the person
                                      I go to sleep as
                         arrives at a coven
               It passes in
                            day-for-night black
            So dark the dog rises
                          high as its star
            Revenants scrum
                         and the beggar from noon
      is light skinned and
                                          clean around midnight
I can’t call out a viper
                                     with one bum arm
                and need in my eye
A hole where the bonus
                                         slips out of place in me
            New faces I can’t verify
        Odors once of flesh
                    that no longer has scars

The literal word is envie not besoin
Happens with defunct and wretched –
                 I mean wrenched –
                       It’s indefensible
        the shit that goes on around here
Explosions cover my one ear
Action gets cadavers to thaw
There is anxiety ahead
          when you insert another dollar

Comes the moment I behave
                in graceful rude
             attitudes of neck, celluloid
                                                      and rage
Multicolor infants smile
                                          out portholes
                   as the rocket lifts off
             Fatigued to the point
                                                   I hit out
                     at the dark wall
             until I find my pants

Slaps Away

I buy another day
and listen all through it
A question for Fu Manchu:
Why does she move me again
                  why do I stir?
My fingertips throb
              from one peek
          at her thighs
Her laugh so like
a thought she slaps away
Memory kisses deep
               and I get hard
Burnt poison her rage leaves
         and I toughen
If along her street there were
                 another chance
        I would not break its sorrow

I sleepwalk in deception
                     and desire
She is above me
                     she tumbles upward
I might never see a horizon
               her breasts are so stateless
             and sleep slices thin
I see blood on its way
                from an orange moon
           to flush her cheeks
A pricey set of sheets from Babylon
                and how I care

All the Roundabouts

Readiness departs after
a modest reach for the sky
                          The situationist
                grasps the microphone
        Seems fine by
                        the obstacle course
                   of sunbathers

I look shallowly
                            into a face
           where browns yellow
                 blue under your eyes
Everything you give me
            is like stealing your seat
            before it burns

The centrifuge is all yours
                   sparks flash
and I’m like water
             under your nails
          I make vapor
                                 Depends on
             false change of season
Tree fruit drips
            and knowledge turns sticky
        You lick it and
                groom yourself
       in one of your tongues
About eight thousand miles
              for hire

The pastry cost me nothing
The man at the wheel is not a born server
He knows all the roundabouts
Relax and indent your knees some
It’s dark already once at
              the charging station
Moon cockeyed
                            You in trouble

Will Do

I try to tell padded bluster
        from dramatic calving
Someone mutely falls apart but
      holds the biggest chunks together
She subscribes to her own fury
             Hot steel blade tempered
                in grape jelly
Use your eyes:
                          there is also
             a blackened spoon
                       in the hatchback

Reconstitution resembles
          a frottage joke
and the stenciled number
                on the rookie camel
Connect the bones as I plow
             the seas under and
       coax memory into whispers

The body selects its own piracy
                  impelled to confusion
I forget where the pleasure fits in
Can’t be a dream, the clock
           is running over
               my feet of bisqued clay
I have to learn my way again
        around Disenchantmentville –
my new favorite problem
Any place will do

Poet John Godfrey lives in the East Village of Manhattan forever. He has been things and seen places. In 2016 Wave Books published The City Keeps: Selected and New Poems 1966-2014 and in 2020 Cuneiform Press published A Torch for Orphans.

Founded in 2020, Three Fold is an independent quarterly based in Detroit that presents exploratory points of view on arts, culture, and society in addition to original works in various media, including visual art, literature, film and the performing arts. We solicit and commission contributions from artists, writers, and activists around the world. Three Fold is a publication of Trinosophes Projects, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization located in the historic Eastern Market neighborhood in downtown Detroit. Click here to check out Three Fold’s events page and view a schedule of the publication’s on-site activities.

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