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Howie Good :: Three prose poems


If You Want a Wolf, Get a Dog

We could see the glow up there. We could see it coming over the hill. I didn’t have to have you tell me what was going on. Lots of people and no answers. We found bodies that were nothing more than ash and bones. The most that could be done was to create some kind of a record that they existed, but it was just not enough. There were flies hovering everywhere around me. Then a deputy showed up with a megaphone and started yelling, “Leave, leave!” So panic? Definitely not. We put a fun slogan and a picture on a condom, and presto! I decided to strip off all my clothes.


Bright Stupid Confetti

Your body’s trembling. And then the music takes over. How did that happen? Everybody is very worried. It's not the same as a normal night of sleep. Look up there. There appears to be exactly one person standing under an open black umbrella. That’s not quite what I want.

*

Sugar can help if you have problems with shaking or trembling. Sex is also a great form of exercise. And it doesn’t require a lot of foreknowledge. Everything flows. Velocity is advancing everywhere. We see the glare of phones being checked, e-mails being sent. We see burning embers falling. I should close my eyes. I really should. But, instead, we all say, “Wow.”

*

When there’s blood and fire all around you, that's war. I’ll be lucky if I see one of my house’s walls still standing. That debris is strange stuff. Looking all the way down to the bottom, you can see the skeleton of the colonization. You can hear them – you can hear the gas grenades all up and down the streets. The crowd is being pushed back, and the gas is coming. Sirens begin to wail. It’s nighttime and deep, and this is who I am.

*

The sky is so thoroughly that blue she adored it’s impossible to believe she isn’t still alive to see it. Can anyone come up with an innocent explanation for this? Hmm? The leaves are erupting in morbid colors, Dragon’s Blood, Uranium Yellow, Mummy Brown. Everything else has failed. I can’t remember now why I ever thought it wouldn’t. I’m afraid of human beings. There’s just too much about them that’s hidden and unknowable. I need to leave. I don’t belong here. My grandmother when I was little would pick up a spider she found in the house and put it back outside.


The Whole Goddamn Thing

I put things here and I look at them for a long time and if they don’t belong, well, they’ll get up and walk. It’s surprisingly easy to get lost. I regret that in some ways, and in other ways I don’t, and that’s the conundrum of all this. Usually there’s history – a note or message to someone. They don’t want to turn off the information, ever. If you stop at a red light, they will shout at you and say, ‘Do you think you are in Europe?’ I didn’t believe my friends when they first told me. Now I see flames behaving in ways no one had thought possible. Will there always be a guard box with a soldier with a rifle on his shoulder? You must change your life. At least that’s the advice I got. There’s nowhere in the country you can say this place is better than another. I don’t even know if they’d let people like me in. The scarecrow too has to wear this yellow star.



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. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely. 

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