Janlori Goldman’s chapbook Akhmatova’s Egg was recently published by Toadlily Press as part of its Quartet Series. Her first full-length manuscript has been a finalist in a number of contests, and her poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, Gwarlingo, Connotation Press, Mudlark, Calyx, Contrary, Rattle, The Sow’s Ear, Gertrude, and The Mom Egg. In 2013, Gerald Stern chose her poem “At the Cubbyhole Bar” for the Raynes “American Dream” Prize. She is a writing mentor at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and teaches at Columbia University. She received an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.

On Libations: “Tequila. Made from the blue agave plant grown in certain regions of Mexico, and reputed to have hallucinogenic properties, tequila can be smooth and clean, or smoky and herbaceous. My preference depends on context, but no matter how much I drink (don’t even dare me), I only feel more ecstatic with each swirled sip.”

Janlori Goldman

From This Chair

It has to be a certain kind of quiet,

when even October’s cricket wears out,

when the owls give up, lay their impossible heads
down to their chests, and no car makes the turn
in front of the house, no kill for coyotes,

my own blood silent— 

when newly brittle leaves hold still,

when the wind shifts to the next road,

unsettles the neighbor’s leaves

from their living,

then, into that quiet hour, a rattle

of plaster, scritch and scrattle in the walls,

as the agile hands of mice

work dustballs and human hair, make a crib 

to cup a cluster of pinkies,

skin so thin I must write translucent—

though I want to say see-through—

at first light a bluejay drops in,

grabs a branch outside the window, 

lucky for this poem the jay’s a daybird,

and lucky for me, here with time,

who  hears mice nesting

and the call of one migrating goose

way beyond the upturned bellies of the hills,

who knows to watch for the first to fly over,

sure of the V that flaps behind— here it comes,

an orchestra of honk and bleat,

the lonely cry explodes.