/nicholas goodly

Withdrawal in Drag

Dear pores, squeeze
every venom out of us.
The floorboards are unwell.
Leave no wounds.
Thinly shapeshifter,
come gaping crow
come broken city.
Practical scaffolding
temple taking beatings,
Scars, you are now
a giant woman.
Porous mary, you are longing.
Miss your drink. Lick
grenadine from your claws.
Penitent medusa, eat
a liver every day.
Chew our chances in half.
Change the form of your grit.
Safely trade your ice pick
for a Lisa Frank ice pick.
Become extraordinarily beautiful,
that is your ability. Old phoenix,
last call. Take up
as much room as you need.
Open yourself towards a thing
darker than a person.
Yellow head
soaking through the pillows,
you are made for dissection.
Steady my hand,
the one at your breast,
no blade or precious fire.
I don’t want to know you anymore.


I ask a magic-8 ball if Jesus is real
poetry is untelling a lie
I smile when my friends have bad news
I try to leave something beyond repair
in every sacred space
candle wick and chalice
the moths close their wings
I watch hours of brothers
and sisters slamming their fists
into each other
some days I wish I was both of them
I want to roughen up souls
yank a fistful of someone’s hair
I drank like hell the night
before the funeral Thundercat
is a poem so is bad drag
I am drawn to people
that deserve me the least
I could easily be a worse person
how many people am I
and where is the body
I crave hung poems here is a bird
in an airport I have wet dreams
that end in cold blood I order a man
to kneel for my affection
and he does it oh boy
am I capable of sweet heart
I am good at the yoke
I have sympathy
once I heard a man say nigger
and wanted him to mean me
a poem doesn’t have to mean anything
a poem is a fire with no end
if given another chance this life
I’d make peace with getting weaker everyday
I ask God to come inside me
God opens his mouth
and creates the sky
waves of old cold stars
a poem sharpens the wind
everything is true
I need to be told what to believe

Nicholas Goodly is the writing editor of Wussy Magazine, a Cave Canem fellow, and team member of the performing arts platform Fly on a Wall. They are the runner-up for the 2019 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, recipient of the 2017 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship and received a teaching fellowship and MFA from Columbia University.