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  John Godfrey
John Godfrey
John Godfrey John Godfrey was born in Massena, N.Y. 11 July 1945. He entered school in Honolulu, then the Territory of Hawaii (T.H.), and attended schools in Bennington, VT, Albany, NY, and Dallas, TX thereafter. From 1963-1967 he attended Princeton University, where he was a classmate of John Koethe. Since 1965 they have been close friends and colleagues in the service of varieties of the same muse.

After graduation, settling hash with the Selective Service, and a year in northern California, Godfrey has lived without interruption in the East Village of Manhattan. For years he supported himself in colorful occupations. In 1994 he received a B.S. in Nursing from Columbia University. From 1994-2003 he was a visiting nurse in the Maternal/Child HIV/AIDS program of St. Mary's Hospital for Children, with a caseload in the North Brooklyn ghettos. In 2003 he became Head Nurse in the Family Care Clinic of Kings County Hospital Center, which specialized in HIV/AIDS care for pediatrics, young adults, and especially the treatment of infected pregnant women. He coordinated the testing, through the New York State Department of Health, of newborns. Over 300 infants were born without infection up to his retirement in 2011.

He is the author of eleven collections of poems. In the current century the titles are Push the Mule (The Figures, 2001), Private Lemonade (Adventures in Poetry, 2003), City of Corners (Wave Books, 2008), Tiny Gold Dress (Lunar Chandelier, 2012), and a chapbook, Singles and Fives (Fewer & Further, 2012). In 1984 he was a fellow of the General Electric Foundation. He received fellowships from the Foundation for Contemporary Art in 2009 and from the Z Foundation in 2013.

Room to Sleep



John Godfrey
To breathe and measure
all else that lives
Not breathe and risk
the memory you inherit
There is a way, everybody say
the shadow of a branch
in autumn gust, flicks across
her face and imprints it on
the air of my suspirations

Once the detective who
can find your guitar
Now I weave up Avenue A
abstracted in the vision
of her bushy eyebrows
Her eyes offer room to sleep

Only so tall, it is Fall
Hand deep in coals
left by careless sparks
Night lengthens to blow
on them with dreams
I invent her radiance
Exaggeration is slight
Identify her straight stride
Sun at her back
A world away


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