SPOTLIGHT: Cut-throat & Tongue-tied Bullet Riddled & Gun Shy Poems by Stephen J Golds

Praise for Stephen J. Golds

Golds has the goods. His poems hit hard with their imagery and honesty. Honesty that is impossible not to be seared by.

-Scott Cumming 

Diving into Stephen J. Golds’ poetry is like diving into the dark ocean of all that is human: loss and grief and beauty and the occasional piece of happiness which you long to keep hold of. By delving into his own soul, he shows you the parts of your own you may not want to see, but need to see.

-N. B. Turner,

author and co-host of the Dark Waters Podcast 

Stephen J. Golds’ poetry takes you to the bottom of his soul, the meanders of his brain, the depth of his heart. A heart that he pours on the page, offering us fragments of pain and despair, and memories of love wrapped in dark tones and graceful words. Golds’ brave, punchy and stunning poetry makes him one of the best.

B F Jones,

author of The Only Sounds Left 

Tu et Ego

I, I am
the garbage bag
split in the bottom,
you carry on Tuesday mornings.
The dead potted plant,
you glance at occasionally
when it’s raining outside.
The radio with no batteries
on the shelf above the kitchen sink,
you’ll one day place in a cardboard box
for Good Will.

And you, you are
the twisting echo
in a smudged plate glass window.
As all murmured reflections
a beautiful deceit in reverse.
A sparrow in yellowed grass
for the tom cat with ripped ear and
the all encroaching darkness.
Sunlight ricocheting through
curtains the color of
torn bridal wear.

And we, we are
here nor there and
what dreams may come.

Jane Doe

They found her off the Redwood Highway. Oregon.
Pink and beige checkered coat rotted through.
Size 8 and a half
tennis shoes.
One braided ring with a mother of Pearl stone and
38 cents in loose change.
A map of recreational sites of California in her purse.
Strangled with a belt that wasn’t hers and
dumped so far away
from where she was going.
Where she wanted to be.
All that remained of her,
so little not stolen.

December and

It’s snowing outside
my window and you’re dead.
In the ground miles away.
This is where all love goes.
Into the cold earth.
And the ones that lingered
I helped along with pillow to the face
or revolver to the head.
Knife to the heart or unkind word.

Cleaning up the mess that stains
the floorboards and remains on my skin
with bleach and tarpaulin sheets, I always wish
to take my actions back. All the words, too.
Knowing my blood runs too hot and then too cold.

But you’re dead and
it’s snowing outside
my window.
It’s snowing.

It’s snowing.


I still remember
the park we played in as kids.
Graffiti riddled slide and rusty chained swings.
Broken glass scattered in crab grass.
And the girl who lived in the block of apartments
across the street with her grandmother.
Her smile the whitest thing I’d ever seen.
Lips the color of cherry bubble gum.
She smiled a lot. My mouth would always go
very dry whenever I spoke to her.

I still remember
she asked me one afternoon
why my friends
called me ‘poor’?
I opened my mouth and
closed it again.
My friends said
they would show her

I still remember
I laughed
that begging, breathless kind of laughter.
The sound you make when you realize
people you trusted
are going to betray you, hurt you and
you want to show yourself
much stronger than you are.
It’s all just one big joke
and you can take a joke.

I still remember
they ripped the sneakers from
my feet exposing the holey socks
concealed within.
The flesh of the heel and toes
too white.
The proof that I was poor
was in the socks,
they screamed

I still remember
the sneakers, I’d worked five weeks of a Saturday job,
sweeping dust on a construction site to buy,
casually tossed into a garbage pail full of black banana peels,
coke cans, wasps, diapers, used condoms
and all the other shit. Discarded.
They all laughed that triumphant kind of laughter.
They had won something and
what it was they had won,
I still don’t know.

I still remember
looking at all of the pointed fingers and
sharp faces there in that park and
the girl who lived in the block of apartments
across the street with her grandmother.
Her smile the whitest thing I’d ever seen.
Lips the color of cherry bubble gum.
She was pointing too. She called me
a word wrapped in razor-tipped giggles.

I still remember
fishing the sneakers from the garbage.
I couldn’t understand why
my holey socks were funny.
We were all poor,
wearing the same clothes everyday.
Our mothers all working the night-shift and
our fathers construction laborers.
We were all living in the same poor neighborhood

On That Early Morning Street

Hot piss seeping dark into the grit
making shapes,
hard cases squealing like the children
they were

about who would open
the bloodied, unconscious drunk’s
damp billfold.
No one wanted piss on their hands,

the blood was all right.
The blood on our fists was something
to be measured and compared
as though it were the size of our pricks.


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