Poem of the Week | October 05, 2010

This week, we present Nick Courtright’s “Goddess.” His poetry is forthcoming or has appeared in The Southern Review, Boston Review, The Iowa Review, and The Kenyon Review Online, among numerous others, and a chapbook, Elegy for the Builder’s Wife, is out with Blue Hour Press. His multi-finalist manuscript Likely Fates is currently seeking a publisher. A music critic and interviewer for the Austinist, he teaches at Southwestern and St. Edward’s Universities.

Author’s note: “The complex insight for this poem is that it’s a commentary on the eventual (inevitable?) passage of our preferred gods into irrelevancy, only to be replaced by new gods whose powers are more or less profound, regardless of whether these be gods of marble or of nature or of neither; of course, the irony in this would be that the ‘capital G’ God is unchanging. The simple insight is that my wife grinds her teeth when she sees something beautiful, and this is a love poem.”


You’re grinding your teeth
again, maybe this time your whole jaw’s worth will break into bits

leaving just a bright mouth of the hundred pieces
your thirty-two teeth have
in an instant become, and all
because what you viewed was too beautiful.

You wanted to pinch the cheeks
of that July sunset, you wanted to pet the mountain landscape
until its body was pressed flat against the ground.
You loved all of these things
                                              like one’s torso

flowing towards another’s, or the bend in the road
around which you poured yourself

into an adrenaline so fine you could breathe it and the black hills
could breathe it—

You loved all of these things, they were so beautiful

you ground your teeth, and were one of them.