by Howie Good


The Drowned and the Saved

Everyone wants to see the trapeze guy fall and the lion trainer killed. Then we can forget our own problems. What have we come to? Oh, a moving painting but with sound! We have even replicated the cracks in the canvas. Maybe girls come into it a little bit. They were underwater, anyway. They never thought there would be such a flood. I’m going to leave flowers at the place where it happened. No one deserves to be just a number.

Reconstructing the Crime

They were shooting people and burning down homes. We had been thinking about this for a long time, but we had lacked the know-how. All the birds in my neighborhood simultaneously made a ruckus and flew away. Eventually, we realized it wasn’t an accident. Everyone went totally mad after that – the police and the people. A police officer kicked open the door of the house, and soldiers rushed in. They had created a manual about how to remove bodies from graves and how to remove heads on battlefields. It all came down to wording. Your wounds can speak even if you cannot.

The Melancholy of Seeing Things for the Last Time

Glass was flying. I saw the guys slumped over. This shouldn’t have happened. We kept yelling, saying we were friends. And he kept shooting. I thought, “Why are you doing this to me? This isn’t the world I signed up for.” I know that sounds like just a rich person’s thing, but it isn’t. I made eye contact with a couple of people, and they made a sad face. I guess it was a nice human moment. Otherwise, why would we even need memory? Now I’m standing in front of the collapsed building. I’m sure some people might think it’s in poor taste. There are still children who look at the building and start crying.

A Losing Game

You should invest in failing, invest in losing, move around like a fish, searching for possibilities. You should create a room to get lost in, a room with what is billed as “the worst view in the world.” Do you see the donut? Do you just see the hole? But if you see the hole, then where is Mary? The problem is too many people. I see a lot of them every day. People no longer know how to talk to each other. They snarl at each other. It’s scary, isn’t it? And it’s messy. There’s a lot of hot, sweaty people here. The person you love will be somewhere, maybe questioning things, or seeing your face in a cloud, or getting evacuated with all the others just ahead of the storm.




Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize for Poetry from Thoughtcrime Press, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.