Poems: Jake Goldwasser

The worst sex I ever had

was at a house party
on a squat kitchen chair
next to the hand levitating
a glass of red wine
laced in laughter and
orange light and the
golden retriever whose
muzzle turned
suddenly to a tangle
of dark lines as it sunk
teeth first into the shrieking
wrist of my friend.

The best sex I ever had

was in the backyard
in the evening shadow
of a hummingbird
his iridescent mane
like a gilt halo of an idol hovering
a hand’s length from my nose.
He disappeared to let me know
about the finch behind
on the terminal twig
of a sapling, motionless.
When I got close, she
stood too still. My face fell–
I retrieved a small box
for her burial.
And then, as though
healed by something
invisible, she flinched
and soared like grapeshot
into burning twilight.


Flying Fish

Once it was their flight—
how they’d wriggled through the ceiling
of the sea, grotesque and magic.
The anger and respect
a child has towards half-real chimera
that flout the rules and get out alive.

Now, looking back on
the shimmering, slow-motion footage
and the bat-wing film of their fins,
what awes me is their neat return
to water, an ordinary school,
setting off into the floorless green.


Above the Gowanus Canal

I am in the low plain of Brooklyn where
the G tracks lift up from the paved ground
like a frog arrested mid-jump
as the two-tone stop-chime croaks
commuters out onto a platform.

Both of my parents are still alive.
My father’s glasses fog up
from the coffee vapor of his weekend mornings.
My mother buys fancy paper
to cut up for the covers of her greeting cards.

It is a strange time and I listen
to the rough theme of the wheels
as I look down. “Gowanus” and “Canal,”
those fond Algonquian sounds buffeting against
what must have been a strange and foreign marvel.


Jake Goldwasser is a linguist, cartoonist, and poet based in Mountain View, California. His work can be found in The Columbia Review, The New Yorker, The Spectacle, and Homonym (forthcoming). He is interested in poetry that explores uncertainty in humans’ relationships with each other, the environment, and the future.


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