Benjamin Goldberg

The Gospel According to Haldol

Once I learned there was no messiah living in my wrists,
                                    every movement I made
ended with broken chains.

                                    I took to the oak groves on my hands and knees,
swilling the dust of the acorn shells
                                                            my palms had crushed. 

Even the hills and their tombs grew sick
                        with the bits of what I smashed against
                                                            my forearms, my fits of broken stones. 

                                    I exiled myself to the sea
a man would mistake later

                                    for a desert, get lost, and wander over
with storms beneath his heels.

They told me after how my skull was a fountain

                                                where languages I never knew went to bathe.     

                                    They told me burning wings beat my throat
free of its own voice.

                        The man found me howling on the shore

and thirsted so much for a stranger’s love

                                                            he sucked the names of hell
                        right out of my mouth. 

I woke in a house my eyes at first mistook for a cloud. 

                                                            In it, that man dripped from a needle

so thick it took four men to thread it into my thigh. 

                                     I learned from him to live in this world

by living first in the bodies of pigs.
                                    Then by living beneath the sea that swallowed them.

Benjamin Goldberg

Benjamin Goldberg’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2014, TriQuarterly, West Branch, Ninth Letter, Salt Hill, Blackbird, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of an award from The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and was a finalist for the 2014 Vinyl 45 Chapbook Contest, the 2013 Third Coast Poetry Prize, and the 2012 Gearhart Poetry Prize. He lives with his wife outside Washington, D.C., and currently attends the MFA program at Johns Hopkins University. Find him online at