Henrietta Goodman

Red Poppy

The possibilities are not

endless. It’s summer:

around our heads,

a swarm of intentions…

no-see-ums, let’s say.


Beyond potential lies choice—

a white room, Georgia O’Keeffe prints

on the ceiling, a quarter-cup

of blood in a tube.


Is it true what they say

about Georgia O’Keeffe?

If so, the vagina is widespread,

meaning, pardon me, everywhere:

waiting rooms, galleries,

the walls of subways and buses.


I’m in red silk panties

that tie in a knot at each hip.

Nothing can be rectified.

We don’t know that we already know this.

We’re on the floor, a coil

of extension cord

under my spine.

I don’t feel it now. I’ll feel it

later. Meaning, as they say,

you can’t change your mind

after this. Music’s playing,

feedback and garbled speech,

a guitar like a sword

through a sheet.


Possibility is an ocean

that tastes like you.

I don’t think I have it backward.

Is it true what they say?

I close my eyes. I see an afterimage,

a bright light,

a red poppy with oblivion

at its center.




“Red Poppy” is from Take What You Want, (Alice James Books, 2007).