Cover art by Alexandra Gerry

Albert Goldbarth

Now an astonished lineman slices
the wire’s black, vinyl giblet
out from the kink where it tumesced
too large and my voice and your ear
compacted on its either side over
and over dumb and deaf as plywood, but

it’ll be back. And we need it, that
blockage in understanding, for what if
contentment flowed so steady, so
air, so electricity, it bypassed completely
our conscious appreciation. Instead,
between us, this black gland: regulatory

hormone. A lineman bundling the old one
in foil for biopsy sucks in deep and sees
a new one, as equally much of you and me
as Donne’s flea, blister out of nowhere.
It says: I alternate. Each joy a pulse.
Each pain a clairvoyance.

Albert Goldbarth was 26 when he wrote and submitted these poems to Phoebe and is 67 now… he has no memory of them, but would like to believe they were written with a novice’s passionate love of the art. In the 41 years since submitting to Phoebe, he’s been busy enough, accruing the long list of publications, from Gum and Clown War to The New Yorker and Poetry and The American Poetry Review, and has published a long list of poetry collections, two of which have received The National Book Critics Circle Award. Other honors for his poems include a Guggenheim Fellowship, three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mark Twain Award from the Poetry Foundation, and annual “best of” awards from Poetry magazine; and other published books include five collections of essays and a novel, Pieces of Payne. He currently lives in Wichita, Kansas—somebody has to—and his fingers have never touched a computer or laptop or tablet keyboard: even so, he isn’t bored and knows what a hashtag is.