6. Goldstein: The Bard of Electricians

Love and affection are common poetic themes that Charles Goldstein, a Cherry Hill electrician by trade and poet through interest, takes to curious lengths. Throughout most of his poetry run the entwined themes of love, lust, and sexuality. The imagery is expressive, ranging from graphic to heart-warming. The effect can be disturbing and leaves the reader wondering: what is Goldstein trying to say, if anything at all, about these feelings?

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One extreme, exemplified in Goldstein’s poem “Rapist,” chronicles a graphic sexual encounter where lust is the only factor at play. Goldstein leaves little to the imagination, and the uncomfortable imagery explores a sexual experience that has no love or affection on either side.

At the other end of the spectrum is love, the topic of Goldstein’s “Recipe for Love.” Here, the narrator goes to great lengths to put together a “recipe” for a happy relationship and a long, happy life together with another person. The ingredients betray no sense of sexuality or lust; instead, they have been selected to achieve pure affection and love.

Goldstein, Charles. “Rapist.” Flight into Fantasy. N.p.; SeeGee Publisher, 1984.

Goldstein, Charles. “Recipe for Love.” Embers and Ashes. Magnolia, New Jersey, Evesham Printers, 1988.

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Somewhere in between these extremes lie Goldstein’s mirror poems “Reflective Introspection” and “Sad Reflection.” In the poem that adopts a male perspective, the poetic voice is egotistical and vain yet laments the vanity and shallowness of the opposite sex. He claims that appearance alone makes up his sexuality. The female narrator of the companion poem also makes it clear that her self-regard is based solely on appearance. Together, these pieces speak to sexuality, self-esteem, and the ways that each gender is perceived and perceives the other. Are these pieces accurate in their reflections on what constitutes sexuality?

Goldstein’s work on love, lust, and sexuality plays with imagery to elicit emotion and thus provoke the reader. But what emotions do these pieces play upon? What do these pieces say about their topics and about society? The audience is asked to develop their own interpretations, and invited to develop their own judgment of the poet’s success.

Goldstein, Charles. “Reflective Introspection / Sad Reflection.” Diverse Verse. Mt. Holly, N.J.: Holly Duplicating Center, 1981.

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