Apr/May 2016 Poetry

Two Poems

by Erica Goss

Image courtesy of the British Library Photostream

Love Poem with Broken Things

I like to think of him as a small boy, disassembling
the old phonograph his father gave him.

When we moved in together,
he filled our garage with red metal

toolboxes, boxes with drawers
inside of drawers, stuffed with

wrenches of every conceivable size,
drill bits, washers, screws, and nails.

It seemed as if he knew our life ahead
contained a lot of broken things,

and he, for one, was prepared. Back then,
his boxes of tools annoyed me, tripped me,

forced me to park in the driveway.
But now, when I think our life cannot accept

another broken, hopeless thing,
I know that somewhere in the garage

he has a tool that will mend it, tighten it,
wire it or stabilize it, and if he doesn't,

we've learned to let it go with a shrug,
like when he finally admitted he couldn't

put the phonograph back together, and solemnly
handed the screwdriver back to his father.


The Art of Smoking

It's best to start young. Suck up
secondhand smoke. Notice
how careless adults are. Sneak

a puff while their backs are turned, while
your grandmother brews another pot
of Maxwell House. At twelve finish

your first cigarette, down to the filter.
Squelch the urge to vomit. At fifteen
discover menthols. Hang out

in the smoking grounds at high school.
Snap your jaw to make rings. Light up
right in front of your mother. Blow

smoke out your bedroom window. Play
games where you try to go a whole day
without one. Relish the ache

that floods your body. Try to quit.
Crumple the crush-proof box and let
the tobacco drift through the air

like confetti. Buy a new pack
one hour later. Inhale and stagger
around the room. At twenty-two

visit your grandmother in the hospital.
Forget to eat. Grow thinner and thinner.
When she dies, smoke more.


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