Albert Goldbarth

Spelling / Complication
April 24, 2016 Goldbarth Albert

Spelling / Complication


Serious injuries only!   Strange

request from an online escort ad, where one

might think the reigning notion was pleasure,

not…oh: inquiries.   (So much for the golden promise

of high school spelling lessons.) Although

the more that one inquires, the more

the injuries do pile up–even behind the doors


of what we’d assume was the pleasant, the healthy,

the pacific. So we know, by now, the Jubilating

Gospel Hour held at the downtown church’s annual

Spiritfest, with the usual scrum of lifesize rosewood

Jesus figures rearranged for this special occasion into

a Protection Circle, along with the Bible Sing-Along

and the face painting booth…are not, I’m sorry,


palisades enough against the homemade but

horrifically effective bomb deposited

in its inconspicuous backpack in the vestibule

…and thus the ubiquitous sticky mist

of body fluids and speckles of flesh that coated

the walls and the inside of the dome, and stank of offal.

Granted: doors of the horrific may open,


equally improbably, onto joy: I choose

the church as an example because its cleanup volunteers

included Darcy and Von, who met in that hellish

sanitizing, and courted, and exactly one year later

married–there, in a complicated bliss, at the altar

they’d helped scrape blood from. And it saved her

from those earlier, darker days when “I felt


I carried my heart like a broken bird

in a paper bag in my chest.” And now when I think

of complicated bliss and complicated sorrow,

I think of this rendition (from a friend’s class)

of the myth of Cupid–who shoots, one student

hastily typed out, an arrow into our hurts.

Spell Check fails in front of such truths.

Albert Goldbarth  is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including most recently, Everyday People and To Be Read in 500 Years. He has won the National Book Critics Circle Award twice.