marc d. goldfinger | ten in a row

What I Do

for Brenda, but she never knew it

As she drives

she places the inhaler in her
mouth, fires a puff deep, holds
her breath

until she can breathe again.
I still carry a Zippo, light
her cigarettes, watch my
heart melt in the shadow
of the flame. It is an old

lighter. At a Rainbow Festival
someone gave it to me
for a six-pack of beer. I still
carry it, light her cigarettes,
fall in love, look into the dark

window of her car
when she takes
out the inhaler. There are
things I can’t change. So

I write poetry instead.

The Way She Shakes

First I checked with the lawyer and she
said that the papers had gone out
to my wife six months past
but no word from the courts yet.

I called the courts and they
said no papers had been
filed. Try another court. Called her
phone number. Disconnected. No

new number listed. The lawyer
told me I could file like she was
missing by putting a notice out
in the paper. Do the divorce

alone. I figured that one way I
could track her down was through
some people we knew when we
had more things in common. At the

shopping mall I saw him. He said that
he gets frightened by the way
she shakes when she injects the cocaine
he gets for her. He said, “She don’t

look too good. I don’t want her
dying when she’s with me. Might cut
her off.” I told him the next
time he sees her tell her to give

me a call. I rode away on
my bicycle. Inside I didn’t feel
too good. My stomach.

Uncontested. Divorce isn’t easy.
No one stands a chance. No one.

The Wake-Up

for Mary Esther

One bright brown eye peeks
out at the world, still dark
with the shade of mourning. She
is not sure whether it is

safe to throw off her cover,
come out to dance with
the uncertainty of day.
Life is like that

sometimes, on other days
the sun is blinding through
the Easter window of the room
she now shares with the man

who loves her. He smiles at
the shadows cast by life until
they back off, grins down
the throat of hard-luck

until it coughs up sunlight
and then he kisses
her forehead, says, “It’s all
right now, breakfast is ready.”

The Outs

I have always been infected, I confess
my heart is with the outs. The left-outs,
the cast-outs, the out of its, out of their
minds, possessed by that which has
them talk to Gods or Demons.

Our spiritual heads rotate on our necks,
look into our eyes if you can, see
outside society, outside civilization,
the jungle roars from our outside eyes.

I confess. I am one of them, yet
even outside them too. The ride-outs,
the white-outs, the black-outs. I have
been told, by one authority
or another that I will always
be an outsider, an outrider,
an outlaw, I dance on
the webbing of civilization.

I confess. I love the dope-fiends,
the tramps, the petty thieves,
the panhandlers, the whores,
the poets from the fringe, the hustlers,
the winos in the alley draining the spider
from a bottle of Maddog 20-20, the dark
bars and coffee houses where the smoke hangs
heavy, where junkies draw up
water from the drain of a dirty
sink to quiet the voices,
where the spirits mutter
divine phrases to themselves. Everyone
understands, no one is talking.

I confess. I love the flame-outs,
the burn-outs, the shut-outs, the put-outs.
The forced-outs, the unclaimed. We know
each other, give one
another the nod as we go
about our business collecting
the hebephrenic voices of the Gods.

Okay, I confess. I am haunted by the ghosts
of the past, the specter of the future,
by women who look at their husbands
with fear in their eyes, by men who walk
docile behind angry wives,
by the counter-worker who cowers
when the manager walks
by, by police who swagger, by guns
in human hands.

I confess. I am haunted by people
who think it is okay to develop
diseases to be used as weapons of war,
by people who spend millions of dollars
of taxpayer money to find out what
a president has done with his penis,
by non-smokers who think auto-exhaust
is okay, by companies who drill oil
wells deep in the ocean and lack
the technology to stop a well
that blows one mile under
the water, then banter while
ecosystems die, by talk shows
that promote mob mentality,
by children who kill each other.

I confess, I have always been
infected, I am only haunted

by what is real.

The Split Man

I am the happy married man
the junkie in the street begging
the house-owner sitting at my computer
in the bathroom sticking a needle in my arm

loving my wife wearing new clothes
no shower in weeks, dirty underwear crying
taking psychiatric meds so I don’t shoot dope
waiting on the corner for the dope man to fix me

writing in the house while waiting for my hard-working wife
smoking a cigarette down till it burns my fingers
watching a movie in bed with my wife
alone in bed, cigarette burns on the sheets

I have everything I need, car, motorcycle, bicycle,
there is a knapsack I carry with all my belongings in it
my wife and I eat at a very nice Chinese restaurant
the coffee house on the corner has a bathroom I shoot dope in

I walk through my house, so many rooms, so many riches,
the holes in my shoes leak water when it rains
I pray to a god that keeps me safe
I believe in a packet of powder that takes my troubles away

my hearing aids help me to hear what I could not before
I see the birds in the trees where I beg but I cannot hear them
making supper for my wife pleases me and she smiles
in my little room there is a small empty refrigerator

my wife and I go the the cape, to the country, we pray and play
I unwrap my needle from the handkerchief, I am a prisoner
my daughter, my granddaughter, my wife, all the loves in my life,
I shake the powder into the spoon, I am alone in a dirty bathroom

I sit at my new laptop writing this poem thinking of everything
I close my eyes, smoke a cigarette, I have trouble urinating
my wife and I are surrounded by our dreams and we touch
I shudder awake, sweat on my skin, life is a nightmare

I am a split man, this half of me dances with joy
I am a split man, this half of me is dying day by day
I can choose, I can stand by a lake holding the hand of my wife
or my choices are gone, I probe my arm looking for a vein

I am a split man, a split man, a split man,
There is a medicine that knits me into one man
but in my mind lurks a demon that wants to shoot heroin
if I stick the medicine under my tongue my wife and I will laugh.

if I shoot heroin my wife will cry and I will go to the street
a split man like me has all the choices in the world
unless I take the powder road that takes my choice away
a life, a wife, warmth and comfort, living and loving

a split man, a split man, I work to make myself whole
yet the abyss looks into my soul and I must not gaze back
all my laughter will cease, my breath will become fetid
if I split, if I split, my own life shall cease

I’ll fall apart and become a beast, the sun will go down
but my wife lights me up and I become whole, no more
will I split man, I’ll treasure my life, keeping my wife
the simplicity of domesticity is the true wealth that heals

the crack, I’d rather have clam chowder with my wife
than that awful powder that splits up my life.

Significant Other

I find myself
checking the veins on
the arms of pretty women
strolling through Harvard Square.
Double-pierced tongue; aerial
spikes through bodies suspended; bird
beaks biting the skull of sensual strangers; blood
spattered orgasms spandex the mind; met
her on a Sunday, handcuffs too tight.
God chooses

our soulmates; I want the woman with the Ankh
tattooed on her ankle, I think of pyramids
when we fuck. She feeds her raven
dead parakeets, places her daschund in the cage
with the boa constrictor, drops lamprey eels
into her giant goldfish pond, prays for hot
days. Says she wants to eat

me live but doesn’t want me to live
through it, she shreds Brillo into my
spaghetti; laces my heroin
with digitalis; stretches wire across
bicycle paths I use daily; she pours
quicklime into my condoms; God

chooses our soulmates; I want
the woman with the teeth.

Revere Beach Wall

For Mary Esther

Hanging out at the wall
at Revere Beach tossing
onion rings and french fries
at the seagulls as they
squawk and shit on our heads

Sometimes even a day at
the beach can be rough
when the greenheads are
all over us sucking our
blood while we eat ice
cream cones that are running
down our fingers faster
than our tongues can go.

We hop back on the bikes,
press start and rumble
down the road with the wind
in our hair and a drink
between our legs,
get pulled over

by the police for driving
while excited.

Medusa With Fire

for Sascha, with love, 1960 — 1998, R.I.P.

The teddy bear on my bed wears
her hat now, a purple beret. She
wore it cocked to the side, her hair
flowed out from under it, wild, red
mingling with brown. When the wind
put motion to it she looked like
Medusa with fire instead of snakes.

Medusa knew enough
not to look in the mirror. My wife
looked, she stared, she was never
satisfied. But then, who is? Who
can say, “I have always accepted
what I see.” Yet we cannot drag
our eyes away, we curse, rake

our nails down the softness
stripping red blood lines, spit
at the reflection. That’s what

she did. Then she put that beret
back on, took out the needle
and put water on the heroin
in her spoon. The teddy bear

has glass eyes, eyes that don’t see
anything. Black eyes, eyes I can
look into, see myself staring back.

Junkie Love

True Love
…………is splitting the dope
……………………right down the middle
or even
……………………giving her
………………………………the bigger hit
True Love
…………is when the dope comes
……………………while she’s out
………………………………and you wait for her
………………………………………………… come home
………………………………………………………….before you fix
True Love
……… when you’re both sick
…………………..and you give her
……………………………..the last bag
True Love
……… when
………………….you’re strung out
…………………………….and broke
………………………………………and you don’t ask her
……………………………………………… hit the streets.

A Couple Of Kids

She sits in front
of the 7-11, a cup
for spare change in
her hand. Her eyes are

still clear. He comes out
of the store, I’ve seen them
together before. She is quite
young, maybe 17 years old, he is

quite high on heroin, possibly early
20’s, heavy lidded eyes, he scratches
his nose. “We’re going to get married,”
he says to me as he hands her a cardboard

sign to hold that says, “broke and hungry,
please help.” “I just don’t have the cash for
the ring yet,” is what he says as he looks at me
with pinned eyes. She says, “Maybe we’ll go to

Florida where the nights are warm. When we get
the money.” He sits
next to her, closes his
eyes, his head tips forward.

She places her arm around his
shoulders. “I got me a good one,
eh,” she says with a big smile, wide
innocent eyes. I don’t know what to

say. I want to shake her, wake her up
from whatever keeps her asleep. Her eyes

are still clear, he hasn’t turned her on to the
heroin yet. I can still see them, sitting
in front of the 7-11 in the heart
of Central Square. They

haven’t got to Florida yet.

They’re still sitting there.


has been published by the Ibbetson Street Press, the Aurorean,, Pegasus, the Boston Poet, the Crooked River Press, Earth First! magazine, Clamor magazine, The New Renaissance, User’s News, Poiesis, Rubber-Side-Down and many others. Goldfinger is also a member of the Liberation Poetry Collective and is included in the Liberation Anthology put out by the Trilingual Press. He is currently the poetry editor and a regular columnist for the Spare Change News, a paper put out for the benefit of homeless people. He is a member of the Highway Poets, a motorcycle club whose members have been published throughout the world.

0 Replies to “marc d. goldfinger | ten in a row”

  1. Marc is a brilliant poet of the street… a Jack Micheline of Boston–fearless, evocative, provocative,
    ……great tribute to him and well-deserved –Doug Holder/Ibbetson Street Press

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