Albert Goldbarth, “The Initial Unpublished Discovery”

In another poem, I chronicled my descent
to a level of shadow and intermittent fiery light.
It was a world of empty faces—almost sucked out,
as if eggs the weasels got at had been turned to faces.
Wanderers and their hunched-up stalkers,
mutterers to angry private gods… that’s who I found
down there. I was talking about
our dream life—our subconscious—but a friend said
that she thought I’d meant the New York subway system,
ha ha. Nonetheless, I give to the neurobiologists
this first identification of a mechanism, somewhere in the brain,
I call “the turnstile.” It allows our passage
into the depths. And what’s the morning
—what’s the clear new start—if not our exiting
back into this life through the same round gate?

From The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems, a new collection spanning the last thirty-five years of Goldbarth’s career. Shortly after he won his second National Book Critics Circle award in 2002, Eric McHenry celebrated Goldbarth’s “wacky, talky, and fat” poems in Slate. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “[his] erudition and wit found expression in compulsively wordy but dazzling compositions.”

23 April 2007 | poetry |