Beckian Fritz Goldberg

An Occupation
November 10, 2014 Goldberg Beckian Fritz

An Occupation


The world will end in pink.  Those clouds just above the horizon

burn like lanterns.  Overhead the dark monsoon clouds move in swiftly—


with their terrible eye sockets and long

gray beards they are the faces of the prophets.


Then the light dies.  The wind is hoarse with ozone and the dark

continents move together.  It is rare temper for the desert

where mostly it looks

like the world has already ended


in an eternity flat and brown and the hot atomic white light of the afterlife.  This

judgment is different:  The air gets heavy, then sweet.  Dust begins

to fly.  Then the clouds dark as grapes…


Later in your life you’ll study the sky each day like me

an occupation


of the increasingly mortal.  And small children

who see lambs and buffalos.  Then forget.  The birds have hidden,

east the sky is a mirror’s back.  All this drama of light and air

before the drops come fat as berries, a few at first, then the roof

is roaring. I think of someone I’ve lost


how vast he is—how oblivious

to all this furious touching.  My body


is his relic.  My mind is all he was.  If the world has not taught us

tenderness, what have we done, what will we.

Even the coyotes

have retreated to their caves.  Thunder whip-cracks, lightning

flashbacks the desert, the houses on the mountain, the air an amethyst



The rain wants to drive itself into everything.  I want


everything.  Today in the mail was a letter about the legal slaughter

of wolves in Montana and how I can stop it.  That was depressing so I went

out to look at the sky,

thinking there was no room for innocence anymore.

Thinking that some day there’d be no wolves, the rhinoceros extinct,

the elephant a legend, none in the clouds,


that this may happen in my lifetime.  The air


was close as sweat.  Toward dusk I saw the faint pink glow


at the end of things, my neighbor’s great mesquite against it

somehow delicate, a black lace.  I missed you

and missed you.  Then the rain filled you like a mouth.

Beckian Fritz Goldberg received her M.F.A. in 1985 from Vermont College and is the author of seven volumes of poetry, Body Betrayer (Cleveland State University Press, l99l,) In the Badlands of  Desire (Cleveland State University, l993,) Never Be the Horse, winner of the University of Akron Poetry Prize (University of Akron Press, l999), Twentieth Century Children, a limited edition chapbook, winner of the Indiana Review chapbook prize (Graphic Design Press, Indiana University, l999), Lie Awake Lake, winner of the 2004 Field Poetry Prize (Oberlin College Press, 2005, ) The Book of Accident (University of Akron Press, 2006,)  Reliquary Fever: New and Selected Poems (New Issues Press, 2010) and Egypt From Space (Oberlin, 2013.)  Goldberg has been awarded the Theodore Roethke Poetry Prize from Poetry Northwest, The Gettysburg Review Annual Poetry Prize, two Arizona Commission on the Arts Poetry Fellowships (1993, 2001) and two Pushcart Prizes.  Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies such as New American Poets of the 90’s, Best American Poetry 1995, American Alphabets:25 Contemporary Poets, Best American Poetry 2011,Best American Poetry 2013 and in journals, including The American Poetry Review, Field, The Gettysburg Review, Harper’s, The Iowa Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Gulf Coast, and many others.  She currently lives in California.