The Poet’s Prayer

(To My Dad on His 85th Birthday)


My father, who art a poet,

Ted Goodell be thy name.

Thy earthly kingdom is a corner house in paradise.

Thy will was to marry a uniquely wonderful woman,

And together bear three miraculous beings.

On earth you created heaven.

Everyday you gave us your bread.

Everyday you forgave us our trespasses,

and everyday we trespassed a little more.

And still you lead us not into ordinariness,

But delivered us into an awareness of being

For the mind is thy kingdom, and poetry is thy power

and thy glory, for ever and ever and ever.



Happy 85th Birthday Dad!


May 19, 2018



On your 85th birthday I want to thank you for being my father who art a poet. And even though none of us followed completely in your poetic footsteps you gave us all a softness of spirit and an appreciation for the unusual, lyrical, humorous, unbearable beauty of life. Thank you for that.  Sure, it would be easier to buy you a beer, or a BBQ or tickets to a baseball game, but your not that kind of Dad.  I could never find a Fathers’ Day card or a “To Dad” birthday card that ever spoke to your uniqueness as a human being.  There are no cards for Dads who write poetry, prepare breakfast as a daily meditation in the placement of walnuts and prunes, recite the alphabet backwards, or dads whose greatest desire is to be free from nearly all social obligations and spend hours walking, breathing and swinging their arms in the wide open expanse of Lake Murray. I know that there is more to you than even that.  Things that children are never able to see in their parents because inherently the parent’s freedom ends where the child’s begins.  I’m sorry for that.  Thank you for carrying me constantly, for singing to me, for telling me bedtime stories, for driving me to school, for giving in to nearly every request I ever made, for letting me go, for letting me come back, for helping me with money, pets and boys who broke my heart.  And that was just the first half of my life!  I’m sorry for all the times I pushed you away, for all the times I was impatient or caught up in my own troubles so deeply that I couldn’t see you.  Thank you for being there. I love you.  Thank you for always being a wonderful father, person and poet. 

Happy Birthday!




The Deli

There is no abstraction
In the making
Of a roast beef sandwich
The algebraics of ingredients
The subtle formula
Of production and customer satisfaction
Has long been understood
To represent the highest form
Of social engagement
And the drive of hunger
For bread, cheese and meat
Lights the divine moment
Of bite and eat.

Ted Goodell
May 2018

The Hunter

The sorrow of my childhood
Was the thoughtless killing of a little bird
Well dressed and educated as a boy
Deprived of nothing
Going to music lessons
and acting in plays.
Selecting a city skyline
for my oil painting theme
Then holding a rifle
in my boyish arms
Joining a friend to hike like woodsmen
On a Connecticut trail
Surrounded by the lush greenery of the Berkshire Hills
The unspoken truth of not deserving this paradise
An empty guarantee of perpetual entitlement
with juvenile perceptions
Responding to the wild energy around me
The aroma of earthy life
and the innocent joy of a little bird
Its pulse in full throat serenade
Revealing its beauty to the radiant sun
My rifle pointing at its fluorescent plumage
and in a flash
My guilt consumes me
The ground trembling
Under the weight of my shame

Ted Goodell
April 18, 2018

The Mouse

How foolish it is
To be a mouse
To think its tiny size
Would spare it from the hunt
Would grant it special favors
In a world where traps and guns
Have fed the demon cult
Of hide and kill

The long lessons of search and stalk
In backyards in forests and fields
The sport of hunting
Rising to a cathedral of guns
The innocence of grazing
Lost in what once was
The lap of Earths
Forgotten treasures

Ted Goodell
April 18, 2018

Only Human

How fierce we’ve become
Since the first spear was flung
A kingdom of caves
Rising into cities of steel
The eternal struggle
To fashion living and thinking
With the intricacy of speech
A burning image
Becomes a sparkling wonder
A centering of spectral force
Silently stirring and searching
Finding the arch of energy
Rising like a song
Above the hungering
Journey of being human.

Ted Goodell
March 28, 2018

Puddles in the Rain

Dogs and cats

are the subjects

of many poems

And so are trees and flowers and flames

And children leaping puddles in the rain

But dogs and cats

preserve the safety of their secrets to the end

Leaving poetry to know

They harbor ways unknown

yet deeper than the song

of any poem


Ted Goodell

March 2018


I remember Gargantua
Squatting in his cage
His eyes staring
With helpless animosity
His Massive muscular body
Sluggish and slumped
Against the cold glass
Of his circus den
No screams no beating
of his massive chest
Only the New York crowd
Waiting restlessly to see
God’s superman deprived of Liberty

Ted Goodell
January 2018