Howie Good is the author of Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry. His other books include A Ghost Sings, a Door Opens from Another New Calligraphy and Robots vs. Kung Fu from AngelHouse Press (both 2016). He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.
Finding Them Gone
An honors student was shot in the face. Just some guy driving past shot him. No one warned me before I stepped inside the room for the first time that things pass by in the night. Many people sat on the floor. There was the glare of phones being checked, e-mails being sent. Who are we anyway? When you look in the mirror, who’s there? Stare, pry, eavesdrop, a little like a detective. Squeeze your siblings and tell everyone you love them. It’s about time you did. You aren’t here long. Look at me. I’m beginning to understand something about it.
This Bag Is Not a Toy
Is it evening? The weekend? Another time when few people are around? I begin to hear voices. Some have mistaken this for “enlightenment”. Only the elderly can know what is going to happen. I take a walk on the Boardwalk. A woman has placed herself in the light under one of the infrequent lamp posts. “Tear here,” she says with a wink. Don’t worry. My decision totally.
Someone stabbed S. Beckett in the chest, narrowly missing his heart. He just shrugged. I didn’t actually go to art school. So to me, this was art school. Yeah, every day. “Who’s the bad man?” the police asked as they went door to door. “What’s he look like?” He looked a little like one of the Twelve Apostles, the tallish one with dyed blond hair. And that hadn’t happened before. The police couldn’t catch him. He will still be here, whispering to women on the street, “Your egg, my semen, we change the world.”
Ambulances roam the roads in anticipation of frequent car accidents. “Always keep a gun by your side,” the expert says on TV as if this were reasonable advice. Fish and birds exchange spheres. Warning, a sign says, Baby Birds on Beach. Their eyes are dark in color, just like when they were alive.
The crime tip hotline rings continuously. I’m like, “Who are these people?” Only the guy who runs the souvenir shop in the basement next to the bathrooms seems unimpressed. Meanwhile, the survivors drift about on shaky legs. They can’t believe they’re still alive. Run Hide Fight. It’s an intricate dance. You don’t want to fuck it up. The man with a gun may be gone – or he may be over there, reloading. Listen, have you seen Betty? She’s disappeared. I can picture her lying in the shade of beautiful trees. It’s a place I’d go if I just knew how to get there.
Preliminary Material for a Theory of Sleep
Pubescent girls dump menstrual blood into the street in protest. I want to tell you it’ll be OK, but then I have dreams about losing poems on the subway or a bus. We’re living in a preposterous age. A mob passing by the window chants, “Fuck the clown! Fuck the clown!” They don’t understand the difference between art and crime. An unreliable friend phones in the midst of all this. “What’s another word for nonexistent?” he asks, as if trying to trip me up. I just sleep whenever I feel sleepy
Ladders Cross the Blue Sky in a Wheel of Fire
It used to be a beach. There was sea. There were rocks. I used to fish. I used to see seagulls everywhere. But today there are none. Of course I am missing them. They were entertainment for us, watching them fly.
Failure to follow these warnings could cause serious injury or death. Nearly every night I have catastrophic dreams of swastikas, Trump, border stops. I speak to the eye. I speak for trees. You only hear the monotonous sound of the red sun gnawing at the spider. The bassoon is an instrument that deserves more respect.
WTF?! Spies are everywhere. “Grawlixes,” they reported me as saying. I don’t know exactly when I’m supposed to have I said it. The very first thing I do in the morning after waking up is take a pill that “May cause drowsiness.” And that isn’t necessarily a time to wear party hats. I just felt I had to do it.
Someone is throwing a stone at a bird. Oh good God, that guy! I look a little bit like him. Were you there? Did you witness it? Then you can kind of quietly approach people and go, “Understand? Understand? Understand?”
A Day’s News
You can see the future from here, a killer angel wiping his bloody anus with handfuls of grass. Misery burns us. Drugs burn us. The lightning burns us. Children sing, “Where is my clock? Can I bring my wheelchair?” No one I ask can tell me if this is real. “Sorry,” they just say. “We made a big mistake.” I can’t think too much about it. Everyone is dropping gear, panicking, jumping over tables. So at times I need to close my eyes. These were my rivers, the ghosts of birds all that’s left.
Kevin Mallon, Untitled, Acrylic