Behind Every Door, by Terry Godbey

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Behind Every Door, by Terry Godbey (2006)

"How can such worldly want and wide-eyed craving to live fully finally ring so pure? Godbey's collection has real power...Her beautiful, quiet voice speaks loudly for women in a compelling vernacular that men, too, will understand and treasure."
— Philip F. Deaver                   

Behind Every Door Copyright 2006 by Terry Godbey

Poet Bio: Terry Godbey
Sample Poems:
    For this Life, We'll be Serving Meat Loaf and Mashed Potatoes
    Beauty Lessons at 12        My Face at 46        At the It'll Do Motel

Reviews:    Green Hills Literary Lantern       Excerpts from a review in Off the Coast by Nancy A. Henry

Visit Terry Godbey's Website:

"What is paradoxical . . . is that while Godbey's language has all the direct simplicity of daily usage, the energy and density characteristic of a poet like Sharon Olds, the poems themselves are, again like Olds, unpredictable."
— Adrianne Kalfopoulou in CALYX: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women


Poet Bio: Terry Godbey
Terry Godbey Terry Godbey’s poetry has appeared in Poet Lore, Rattle, Rosebud, Potomac Review, Slipstream, Pearl, Primavera and CALYX Journal. She is a copy editor at the Orlando Sentinel and lives with her husband and 11-year-old son in Maitland, Florida. She likes to play guitar, grow roses, ride her bicycle, and camp and hike, even though she attracts bears and snakes. She thinks she just might go crazy if she couldn’t write poems.

“Terry Godbey offers us freeze frames from our secret lives, frames in which we are caught—human, vulnerable, and, if not guilty, then not entirely innocent. These powerful poems explore desire, desire that never stops, even while we may pretend otherwise, desire that the light slipping out beneath the closed door means someone is waiting for us there. There’s a refreshing frankness here—where other poets might turn away, Godbey keeps going, digging deeper into the strange, imperfect human heart.
Jim Daniels
Visit Terry Godbey's home page at Southern Artistry  


For this Life, We'll be Serving Meat Loaf and Mashed Potatoes

Do you think you’re the only one
ever plunged into the dark
on a long train ride?
Soon enough the lights blink back on,
new people settle into nearby seats:
a man staring past his newspaper,
a woman chewing red grapes and regret.
Look out the window.
It’s the same old scrubbed-skillet sky,
raining on lovers and lonely alike.

Be patient. Your heart will stop
its slavish thumping
like the tail of a dog by the door.
Love almost always ends this way.

Watch the mountains
disappear past the window.
Summon the waiter
for meat loaf and mashed potatoes
and more than a little bourbon
to wash it all down.

You’d like to lie across the tracks
at the next station, but this is not
an old movie, there’s no hero
to scoop you up. That nonsense
is what landed you here.
Hurry and pick yourself up
—it is enough right now
to eat and drink
and save your own life.

Copyright ©2006 Terry Godbey

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Beauty Lessons at 12

Movie magazines stacked as tall
as teased hairdos, unlimited quarters
for Cokes and candy bars
and titillating talk wafting like perfume
suffused summer afternoons
in my aunt’s beauty shop. In a lull,
a cousin would whisk me into her whirling chair,
twist my long hair onto hard rollers
and banish me to the kingdom of hot dryers,
sometimes brandishing eyebrow tweezers,
telling me Ladies have to suffer for beauty.
I looked around but there was no pain,
only the castanets of high heels,
the swishing of skirts, the gurgle
of a good time as the women in pink smocks
made gentle fun of husbands and children,
swapped recipes for casseroles
whipped up in avocado-colored kitchens
and passed on what Thelma said Erma
told Vivian over the backyard fence.
Talk often melted into laughter
or whispers, but strength and sex swirled
like clouds of Aqua Net
and cast a spell over the husbands
who poked their heads warily in the door
and jiggled their keys
but never entered.

Copyright ©2006 Terry Godbey
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My Face at 46

I’ve seen enough of my mouth
wrinkled as a drawstring purse,
my parade of big teeth,
the two in front tipping forward
like drunks, my right ear higher
than the left, skewing my earrings
like weights on a grandfather clock.
God makes us like a puzzle
and sometimes he mixes up the pieces
my little boy says. I don’t blame anyone
but dread what’s next: breasts slowly
letting go, hands speckled like trout.
Most mornings I figure why bother
and dash off without mascara
or lipstick. Is that really me,
or is it the young woman
out of a Flemish oil painting
I expect to see in the mirror, flesh firm
and unblemished, a touch of blush
from anticipation, the bowl of satiny fruit
bursting from the table
paling next to her untasted beauty,
her boundless appetites.

Copyright ©2006 Terry Godbey
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At the It'll Do Motel

She doesn’t mind the quiet,
prefers it to the families yanking suitcases
and children from grimy cars, looking around
in disappointment, asking skeptically, Is there a good place
to eat around here
? They are headed to canyons,
to grandparents’ farms, to the gleaming mirage
of deserts, much better places than here.
She wipes away the traces of their carelessness,
mind turning like the big rigs on the highway,
tears away snapping sheets, tosses the bones
of chicken dinners, dirt swirling outside the window
like a dog chasing its tail. Vacuuming the carpet to worn spots,
she picks up a quarter—Louisiana—where her son chased
a vision of himself. Even her daughter
couldn’t wait to get away, her face like a fist
all through high school.
Tired souls stop but never lovers,
as if one night here could collapse the confection
they’ve been gorging on, as if one swarthy dusk
might grow tentacles and capture them.
Her work is done, the last room clean and waiting.
She could take the one road out of town
and go anywhere, but she sets out for home,
head down, trampling the fingery shadows
of the mesquite. The trees here
can survive anything.

Copyright ©2006 Terry Godbey
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Excerpts from a Review by Nancy A. Henry
Appeared in Off the Coast, Vol. XIV, No. 1, winter 2008

...Honest, gritty, blunt at times—always brave, her work is reminiscent of Sharon Olds and Kim Addonizio, but most of all, reminds me of the songwriting of Lucinda Williams...

Many of these poems do embrace the messy, chaotic joys of family life and the domestic sphere—there are particularly moving poems here about her son—but the poet does not shrink from darkness. Godbey treats subjects such as domestic violence with unflinching confidence and recollects the "wild days" of her youth without self-flagellation, without confessing or asking our pardon or permission, in a voice that is at times bluesy, raunchy and sensual...

Using clear, direct language, Godbey creates images that are both resonant and memorable. A red-hot thread of desire runs through these poems, as Godbey reflects upon the wonder and terrible power of sexuality and femininity...

Behind Every Door is a masterful tour through the life of a trustworthy poet—one who writes from the heart, rather than to show off her (clearly considerable) intelligence. Her poetry is welcoming, inclusive but at the same time unsparing. This is a fine first book from a poet to watch. Highly recommended.