Cagney

Hissing between his teeth

With a smirk

Hoisting up his slacks

With a little bounce

Off the balls of his feet

A quick adjustment

Of shoulders and jacket and fists

All while drawing back

His lips and giving a slow dark temper

A chance to sneer

Some New York City nerve

Straight to the face

Of his cringing rival

He controls the encounter

By straightening the otherwise

Perfect lapels

With reserved motion and malice

Right to the face

Of his threatened foe

 

Ted Goodell

August 2017

On My Eighty Fourth Birthday

How long does it take

To reach eighty four

Does it all depend

On the calendar

Or is the evidence

Found in the ritual

Of the predictability of time

A sequential pattern in space

Or in a gentle breeze

That carries memories and songs

And the shadowy substance of being born

An epilogue to my family and friends:

Treasure today

Profit from yesterday

Invest wisely in tomorrow

 

Ted Goodell

May 2017

Watchmaker

The watchmaker lives

On the wisdom of tradition

Craftsman of the crescent and wheel

Surgically probing the hidden elusive curves

With years of precision planning

The watchmaker sits at his bench like a scribe

Searching the infinitesimal meaning

Of pinions and wheels layered in jewels

Where magnification and the lamp

Align the distal ends of banking pins

Riveting eyes that search for springs

Peering into the ticking heart of time

 

Ted Goodell

April 2017

Cystoscopy

It would be misleading

To compare the cystoscopy

With the threading of a needle

The comparison is more like a

Ballet dancer pirouetting

Tip toe on a tight wire

Stretched between two anchors

Secured to a gurney of steel

The bladder the testis the penis

Impaled in supine submission

The muffled trio trapped

And straining to a slow thrust

Plying the rapier length of a pins point

Upward toward a shaft of light

 

Ted Goodell

April 2017

City Boy

The botanical gardens of Ft. Tryon Park

Grace the Northern tip of Manhattan Island

The abundance of flowering plants

Are protected by warning signs

Wisely engraved for the visitor

But giving a New York City boy

His first awakening to poetry

The words tactfully beautiful

Softly suggesting warning and wonder

Which now eighty years later

Are remembered with timeless certainty

The words and the boundaries of the park

Are magnified by the city’s summer

The blending of historical evidence

And medieval European artistry

Sheltered in the reconstructed cloister

Whose ancient walls rise above the Hudson River

History endlessly flowing past

The great city

Seeking the source of its Legacy

In antiquity and the Palisades of New Jersey

The elegance of an old continent

Oceans and miles of voyages away

Sending these sacred words

For generations forever to hear:

“Lest none should say it

And say it to your shame

That all was beauty here

Before you came”

 

Ted Goodell

March 2017

The Hyacinths

When I see hyacinths

Rooted in vase and flower

A window and a windowsill

To reach beyond

And bring its flower

To bear the only knowledge

That a flower knows

Is light for all of us though we

Imagine that we are not flowers

And yet the hyacinth

Is strangely all of us

Surrounded by the sun

The stars are roots in air

Giving us life in growing things

That link us root and flower

That space we call

The windowsill we call our home

The hyacinth is not a guest

It is the flower we can not be

It is we who are the guests prodding the mystery

 

Ted Goodell

February 2017