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Douglas Goetsch

Born in 1963 and after growing up in Northport, Long Island, Douglas Goetsch was educated at Wesleyan University and New York University.

Douglas Goetsch is author of the poetry collections The Job of Being Everybody (2004), selected as the winner of the 2003 Cleveland State University Poetry Center Open Competition, Nobody’s Hell (Hanging Loose Press, 1999) and three award-winning chapbooks. He has been anthologized in Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools (Random House, 2003). His honors include two New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowships, the Paumanok award, the John Harms National Reading Prize, a Prairie Schooner Reader’s Choice Award, and two Pushcart Prize nominations.

He now resides in New York City. For 18 years he’s taught in New York City public schools. He currently teaches creative writing to incarcerated teens at Passages Academy in the Bronx, and in workshops around the country. (poets.org)


Have you ever found yourself (or someone else like your spouse!) uttering the words, “I’m (you’re) getting just like my (your) mother (father)!” Was it in a good context or not so good context? I found myself saying and thinking that often, and it’s taken me years to realize that it doesn’t HAVE to mean something negative. Those characteristics seem to be ingrained in us, too. Sometimes they show up when we least expect them. I guess one of the the secrets in life is to learn from them, to make them strengths rather than weaknesses. I appreciated Goetsch’s poem…


What I Do

I pay bills the way he did,
checkbook, calculator, roll
of stamps laid out on a Sunday
near the end of the month,
ripping the perforations, stuffing
the trash can with what doesn’t matter,
licking envelopes, a tidy stack
of outgoing mail, adding it up
to get the number for the month
which keeps the walls around me.
Maybe he felt powerful, or just
responsible, signing those checks,

sitting hours at his desk, slumped,
his big back to me and the rest
of the house. What I did
was bring him coffee, black
steaming cups burning my fingers
down the long carpeted hallway.
I emptied his ashtray. I put my small
fists in his shoes and shined them.
If there was more to my father
it was in a place I couldn’t see,
and now that I’m approaching
the age he was when we stopped

speaking, I’m beginning to get
a hint of him in what I say
when I’m not thinking, a glimpse
of his hairline in the rear view mirror.
Sometimes on the golf course I imagine
he’s golfing too, five states away,
studying his ball, waggling the club
three times the way I do, a signature
twist of the back, left hand
up to shade the eyes, and the same
God damn son of a bitch!
when it disappears into trees.


Picture Source: Blackbird