November 06, 2007


Yellowtail snapper with citrus beurre blanc, filet
mignon in demi-glace cabernet, roast duck
garnished with mint-jellied peaches, angels
on horseback (dates stuffed with garlic cloves
wrapped in bacon and served in a hot honey-
pepper sauce), bananas foster, key lime pie,
dense, flourless chocolate cake drizzled
with a raspberry coulis, Lord, grant me the power
to well digest all that I have well eaten.

—Barbara Goldberg
From The Royal Baker’s Daughter (forthcoming U. of Wisconsin Press, 2008)

Posted by dwaber at 02:22 PM

November 05, 2007


She wears her art lightly as a thin scrim
of ice on a clear window pane. Which can be
cracked at the faintest tap. A wren’s beak, say,
or a squirrel’s claw. Add a cat’s lapping tongue.
As can happen any time, any place. Where she is
right now? At the precipice of morning, where
nothing is in place and all is nascent and undone.
Just the way she likes it, she to whom decision
means cutting off, cutting out, diminution of
the possible, the that that we can never fathom.

—Barbara Goldberg
Winner, Emily Dickinson Poetry Award judged by Andrew Hudgins (from “Fortune’s Darling” to appear in The Royal Baker’s Daughter, U. of Wisconsin Press, 2008)

Posted by dwaber at 01:15 PM

November 04, 2007


Born with a cowlick, a black tuft untamed
by cradlesong. Blessed with two deft hands
and a flair for forgery. Underlings stack
the flatware, prop the rickety staircase,
prepare the borscht. Not she of the four
crinolines, the seven silk scarves. Sloe-eyed
in the casino of chance, she croons her come-ons
to runaway Jacks and reins them in. Grooms
them with a devious tongue, a red-hot brush.
The bridle, the whip, attuned and insomniac.

—Barbara Goldberg
Winner, Emily Dickinson Poetry Award judged by Andrew Hudgins (from “Fortune’s Darling” to appear in The Royal Baker’s Daughter, U. of Wisconsin Press, 2008)

Posted by dwaber at 01:57 PM

November 03, 2007


To see what the great ones saw--
far-off towns and valleys
as blue, twisting trunks
of olive trees as variations
in black, the possibilities
of ochre. And to remember

this old stone house and its
discomforts--sagging bed, steep
steps, chamber pots, the unpredictability
of water. Still, there was the fig,
the swallows. And these words
that came without labor.
That it could be like that.

—Barbara Goldberg

Posted by dwaber at 12:50 PM

November 02, 2007


The elation of naming, that dispassionate
stance, of course it could not last. As all

first steps it was bound to lead to that first
misstep, that attenuated fall through ebony

branches into the Forest of Indifference. Oh
how to define the pain of it, the eclipse

of sky, the scales that seem to sprout
over one’s eyes, the petals of love-lies-bleeding

wilting in that thicket of night? Then a headlong
plunge into the slough of the seven toads

and there defiled by false iridescence, the barter,
the intrigue, the back and forth, that rough

exchange, the petty puffery of fame,
the flat inspection of their malachite eyes.

—Barbara Goldberg
Published in The Paris Review (from The Royal Baker’s Daughter,
forthcoming U. of Wisconsin Press, 2008)

Posted by dwaber at 03:20 PM

November 01, 2007


Up here on the high wire it’s a sheer
sure-footed dance, a one-night mission
under the Big Top, without a safety net

to cushion. It’s the taunting missteps,
the sharp intake of breath, exhalations
of the squeamish egging me on, and the world

marble-smooth, veined to the core, perched
on the tip of my ongue. I juggle spangled
orbs from one palm to another, a marriage

of holding on and letting go. You’d think
by now I’d let it fall, the world cracked
open like a skull, bits of hair, feathers,

the loose associations. But once I knew
the buttons on a fly, the upturned collar,
the child licking her fingers imagining

an Africa, I knew all matter while compressed
is no longer solitary. As me how I keep it
twirling, defying gravity with every turn –

I’ll never tell. You won’t read fear
in eyes that glitter, dazzle, take you
by storm. Come one, come all, observe

communion with infinity. See the fabulous
steps, the foolhardy toes. Be amazed
by the pupil of possibility.

—Barbara Goldberg
Published in Juggler’s World (from Cautionary Tales, Dryad Press, 1990)

Posted by dwaber at 02:22 PM

October 31, 2007


May the Lord of Death pass over
this house. May the Lord of Envy
not curdle our whey. May the Lord
of Greed release us from craving.
Great Lord of Time, grant us a stay.

—Barbara Goldberg
Forthcoming in The Royal Baker’s Daughter (University of Wisconsin Press, 2008)

Posted by dwaber at 03:01 PM