Three Poems from Stephen J Golds

Holes 

I still remember

the park we played in as kids.

Griffiti riddled slide and rusty chained swings. 

Broken glass scattered in crab grass. 

And the girl who lived in the block of apartments 

across the street with her grandmother. 

Her smile the whitest thing I’d ever seen. 

Lips the color of cherry bubble gum. 

She smiled a lot. My mouth would always 

go very dry whenever I spoke to her. 

Once she asked me 

why my friends called me ‘poor’?

I opened my mouth and closed it. 

Stuttered. 

My friends said they would show her why.  

I still remember

I laughed 

that begging, breathless kind of laughter. 

The sound you make when you realize 

people you trusted 

are going to betray you, hurt you and 

you want to show yourself 

much stronger than you are. 

It’s all just one big joke 

and you can take a joke. 

I still remember 

they ripped the sneakers from 

my feet exposing the holey socks

concealed within. 

The flesh of the heel and toes 

too white. 

The proof that I was poor was in the socks, 

they screamed victorious. 

I still remember 

the sneakers, I’d worked 

five weeks of a Saturday job, 

sweeping dust on a construction site to buy, 

casually tossed into a garbage pail 

full of black banana peels, 

coke cans, wasps, diapers, used condoms 

and all the other shit. Discarded. 

They all laughed that triumphant kind of laughter. 

They had won something and 

what it was they had won,

I still don’t know. 

I still remember

looking at all of the pointed fingers and 

sharp faces there in that park and 

the girl who lived in the block of apartments 

across the street with her grandmother. 

Her smile the whitest thing I’d ever seen. 

Lips the color of cherry bubble gum. 

She was pointing too. 

She called me pathetic, 

a word wrapped in razor-tipped giggles.

I still remember 

fishing the sneakers from the garbage.

I couldn’t understand why 

my holey socks were funny. 

We were all poor,

wearing the same clothes everyday.

Our mothers all working the night-shift and 

our fathers construction laborers.  

We were all living in the same 

poor neighborhood 

together. 

Megumi 

I suppose even fireflies they too turn to ash 

but tonight 

I’m sitting in this hot bath with you.

The bath bombs you brought 

smell like strawberries. 

We watch them dissolve slowly in the space between us. 

Listening to the radio and the sounds of water like piano keys 

as you scrub the filth from my body and my heart. 

Watching you lather foam from across your milky 

shoulders and breasts, the light running over your moist skin

sunshine through cream fabric hanging from a summer window,

in your eyes — moonlight on glass. 

I know this moment is something

I want to capture and 

hold glowing in a jar like a firefly. 

On That Early Morning Street 

Hot piss seeped dark into the grit 

making shapes, 

hard cases squealing like the children 

they were 

about who would open 

the bloodied, unconscious drunk’s 

damp billfold.

No one wanted piss on their hands, 

the blood was all right. 

The blood on our fists was something 

to be measured and compared 

as though it were the size of our pricks.