Good Men

Poetry / Sarah Kersey


:: Good Men ::

for JWH

I keep changing. This is
The wind applauds my red motorcycle
as it breaks 50 mph before
it sputters out on the side of the road,
gravel gray like gospel. Shattered.
Do you need help?
Tenderness reduces to copper,
calculates what I owe. I’ve climbed
into beds, onto faces, on top of waists,
now into this white pickup truck.
Bikers help each other.
When I told the elders I no longer
wished to be known as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses,
you, a good man, the only man I love,
cried into the Zoom screen; as if
the weather had changed 
to cool morning mist.
You knew everything I’d lost and wet all of it
so I wouldn’t crack.
Listen to me, you said.
I was going to be alone.
Kicking off gravel caught in my boots,
I got into the truck.
Next time, the man said,
take off your helmet.
It will signal to other bikers that
you need help.

From the writer


:: Account ::

Every year since Sep­tem­ber 2014, I always attempt to write a poem about one of the great­est loss­es I’ve had in my life. I was attempt­ing that poem last year when it became too dif­fi­cult to con­tin­ue the draft. At around that time, I took a poet­ry work­shop called Poet­ry and Inti­ma­cy, which was led by Taneum Bam­brick. One of their prompts was to write about an inti­mate moment between strangers. “Good Men” is the result. It’s based on my actu­al expe­ri­ence of run­ning out of gas while rid­ing my motor­cy­cle in New Jer­sey, and a man who stopped on the side of the road to help. I was also stuck on a sep­a­rate draft of a poem about my dis­as­so­ci­a­tion from the Jehovah’s Wit­ness­es in Decem­ber 2021. All these loss­es merged in my brain, on and off the page. Yet, this poem embod­ies a hope I’d nev­er pre­vi­ous­ly imag­ined for myself, even as I wres­tle between my old and new self, my old and new beliefs.


Sarah Kersey is a poet and x‑ray tech­nol­o­gist who lives right out­side Boston, MA. She has received sup­port from Tin House Work­shop. Their debut chap­book Anacru­sis is forth­com­ing with New­found in 2024. She tweets @sk__poet.