Literary Yard

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‘Help, I am a human trapped within the body of a human!’ and other poems

By: Ethan Goffman

Help, I am a human trapped within the body of a human!

Is this body my identity?
I didn’t choose it. Did it choose me?
Without me it lacks agency.
Without it, I can never simply be.
Yet who’s this “I,” who is this “me”?
Am I my face? My personality?
Am I my thoughts that stream incessantly,
the sum of all that others think of me?
I feel that I must scream abundantly!
I wish my thoughts could fly and stream freely,
across far more than this vast galaxy,
outside this shell that aches so frequently.
Help please, I’m trapped in this body.
What is this “I”? Who, what, and woe is me! 


Social Justice Worrier

Like Sisyphus, I awake every day
glance at that huge
then crane my neck,
gaze up at
that distant mountain peak.

Most days I decide
the boulder
is too big, too heavy
the destination
too distant.

Once every millennium or so
I throw myself against it
strain my body
from fingertips to toenails,

push desperately
again, again, again, again, again,
the little engine that couldn’t.

The boulder doesn’t budge
an infinitesimal fraction of a nanometer.

Even if, in a trillion millennia
this obstinate rock
too vast to be conceived
that casts no shadow
that throws shade everywhere
somehow made it to that remote peak
it would, I surmise
split and plummet
in a spinning arc
down, down, down, down, down.

On a planet of glittering distractions,
bread and circuses in every room,
in the palm of the hand,
why waste my day
with an immovable object
when I feel like
the most stoppable force
in the universe?


Why I will never get a DNA test

I know who I am!
My family roots are everyone.
I am Gandhi
I am Hitler
I am billions of
the obscure
each with our own
each unknowable,
a contradiction inside a riddle inside a mobius tube inside an enema.
I am she am they am we am he am us am who
am I?


Ethan Goffman’s first volume of poetry, Words for Things Left Unsaid, was published by Kelsay Books in March of 2020.  His poems and flash fiction have appeared in Alien Buddha, Ariel Chart, BlazeVox, Bradlaugh’s Finger, Burgeon, EarthTalk, The Loch Raven Review,Mad Swirl, MadnessMuse,Ramingo’s Blog,The Raw Art Review,Setu, Verse Virtual and elsewhere. Ethan is co-founder of It Takes a Community, a Montgomery College initiative bringing poetry to students and local residents.  He is also founder and producer of the Poetry & Planet podcast on


  1. Hi Ethan! Once again you have captured my imagination with such perceptive poems. Quirky, funny clever, out of this world, thought provoking, and so many “how the hell did he think of that” lines that percolate inside my brain and inspire me to think out of the box whenever I’m trying to figure out my own life. Kudos to you for your ever fresh ever clever voice that actually does soar way past galaxies and well into the depths of the cosmos! Jerry Eisner

  2. Ethan Your poetry is standing the test of time! I just reread “Help I am a human….”. for the second and third time. This time around the poem made me stop and think more in depth about humanity’s eternal puzzle: what makes us human? What determines our identity? You spark so many questions that have been puzzling, frustrating, and inspiring people since the beginning of time and will, no doubt, ever end!!

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