Terry Godbey: two poems


The Great Tit

Back at work
a week after the third biopsy,
my shish-kabobbed boob
swollen to twice its normal size,
I flip through
the pages I missed
on my Bird-a-Day calendar,
arrive at today’s feature:

Damn, cancer can crack a joke!

My laugh’s no more musical
than the great tit’s song,
which the calendar compares to a squeaky saw,
but I cut loose with my own racket
somewhere between a madwoman’s cackle
and the shrieks of an exotic parrot,
paroxysms of pleasure
loud enough to almost erase
the memory of the long needles,
the pinch of the clamp, the creep factor
of the cold metal table
with a hole for my breast
raised above the radiologist’s head

but mostly in honor
of irony, wit
and my own great tit.


Early in the Pandemic

In Italy, where we had planned
to lose ourselves
in cathedrals, piazzas and pasta
for two weeks in the fall,
people are gathering
on their balconies,
leaning out windows,
waving the country’s flag
and singing to one another,
making music
of their suffering,
soprano, baritone and tenor
all together.

In Italy, people are belting out
the national anthem,
strumming guitars,
slapping tambourines,
filling wind instruments
with the breath
for which they have never been more grateful.

In Italy, while doctors decide
who must go without
a ventilator, people are celebrating
being alive, spilling their resolute voices
into the narrow streets
in a glorious chorus,
banging wooden spoons
against cooking pots,
playing “Hallelujah” on violin,
wishing all the world well again

while here in America,
people are dialing 911
to report they are out of toilet paper.


Terry Godbey’s poetry collections are Hold Still, a finalist for the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award; Beauty Lessons, winner of the Quercus Review Poetry Book Award; Behind Every Door, winner of the Slipstream Poetry Chapbook Contest; and Flame. A winner of the Rita Dove Poetry Award, she has published poems several times in Green Hills Literary Lantern as well as in Rattle, Poet Lore, CALYX Journal, Florida Review and Crab Creek Review. She works as a writer in Orlando, Florida.