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About this poet

Born in 1963 and after growing up in Northport, Long Island, Douglas Goetsch was educated at Wesleyan University and New York University.

Douglas Goetsch is author of the poetry collections The Job of Being Everybody (2004), selected as the winner of the 2003 Cleveland State University Poetry Center Open Competition, Nobody's Hell (Hanging Loose Press, 1999) and three award-winning chapbooks. He has been anthologized in Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools (Random House, 2003). His honors include two New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowships, the Paumanok award, the John Harms National Reading Prize, a Prairie Schooner Reader's Choice Award, and two Pushcart Prize Nominations.


He now resides in New York City. For 18 years he's taught in New York City public schools. He currently teaches creative writing to incarcerated teens at Passages Academy in the Bronx, and in workshops around the country.

Such a Good Dancer

Douglas Goetsch
Desperate to be part of the night, 
we jerked like a bunch of spazzes 
to that screaming eunuch, Michael Jackson. 
Randi Muelbach kept remarking 
You're such a good dancer!
drawing closer, letting me grab her 
saggy ass. My boogying was a sort 
of two-step hip gyration while holding 
my plastic cup of grain alcohol level. 
I had perfected the arm that remained still, 
kept it out like a bird feeder. Randi 
glued elbows to waist and swung 
forearms, hands and hips furiously. 
She was sweating something fierce. 
Her perfume was foul swamp flowers.

From the futon on her floor I watched 
her pull her dress over her head. 
Fat and sadly flat-chested, 
legs already bluing with veins, thick 
knees knocked in, the way the back 
wheels of a Volkswagen buckle with a load. 
Disgusted with myself--two years 
in college and still a virgin--I would 
stick my dick in a girl and end that. 
As she stepped out of her underwear 
I said, After tonight I don't want us 
to ever talk again. OK?
That's what I said.
She looked down at me and said 
Sure, like it was nothing.

Through the cinder block walls 
I could hear that whole dorm writhing 
on a Saturday night. Even Kim Putnam, 
the born again who wore only long skirts 
and was losing her hair, was getting banged 
and moaning like a wild woman. 
Sometimes it sounded like a crowd 
ooh-ing and ahh-ing at a car accident; 
sometimes I heard the night as one fuck 
xeroxed and traveling room to room 
like a rumor, or luck--good or bad, 
either way, I wriggled and fought 
on top of Randi Muelbach, 
who kept whispering in my ear 
Such a good dancer.

From Nobody's Hell, published by Hanging Loose Press, 1999. Copyright © 1999 by Douglas Goetsch. Reprinted with permission.

Douglas Goetsch

Douglas Goetsch

Poet and teacher Douglas Goetsch is author of the poetry collections The Job of Being Everybody and Nobody's Hell

by this poet

I'd walk close to buildings counting 
bricks, run my finger in the grout 
till it grew hot and numb. Bricks 
in a row, rows on a floor, multiply 
floors, buildings, blocks in the city. 
I knew there were numbers for everything-- 
tires piled in mountains at the dump, 
cars on the interstate to Maine,