John Godfrey
~ Nifty Walls

John Godfrey's poems keep the figures and voids, the letters and haunts, the anthems and hums all equally active. They work perspective from the inside-out, making through their cuts the world be worn as seen, on the streets-mind and felt underneath. Living sonics keep time where decisions quietly and loudly get made, every line on in or about a plane, with connections. Nifty Walls turn out what it, being specific, and therefore mystical, is to be alone with many, to be many alone with this curious ongoing everybody, staying in the way of them who back walk, singing powerful unlikeness from the depths of the real spaces between us.

—Anselm Berrigan

John Godfrey
The Recluse


In April you try plans
Turns into May
Best thing is I don’t know bleep
Take dressing for sun
Time after time bad target
Elevated by ungodly machine
is of good outcomes
Of all sacks what sack fits?
I call you without lines
Does anything come of no one?
And turn into sand no salt
Deep hole it all disappears
Guttural languages: lost
Sliver in tragus: rare
Armband from funeral home
Don’t go away in madness
Don’t go away too sure
What a devil says computes
Go ahead, have a hey-day
Sun squeezes into tight sky
Man walks blocks in search

NIFTY WALLS — John Godfrey
Printed in an edition of 300 copies, 2019.


John Godfrey was born in Massena, N.Y. in 1945. He is the author of 14 collections of poetry. He received an A.B. from Princeton University in 1967, and took a B.S. in Nursing from Columbia University in 1994. He has received fellowships from the General Electric Foundation (1984), the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (2009), and the Z Foundation (2013). He retired in 2011 after 17 years as a nurse clinician in HIV/AIDS. He has lived in the East Village of Manhattan since the 1960s.