Howie Good


I could become
a million things:

child with a toy
hand grenade
in Central Park,

identical twins,

a flower girl
at a wedding,

nudist lady
with swan

Xmas tree
in a living room.

I don’t like
to arrange things.

If I stand in front
of something,

instead of arranging it,
I arrange myself.

Certain Machines

I don’t feel that total identity with the machine.
I mean I can work it fine,
although I’m not so great actually.

Sometimes when I’m winding it,
it’ll get stuck or something will go wrong
and I just start clicking everything
and suddenly very often it’s all right again.

That’s my feeling about machines.
If you sort of look the other way,
they’ll get fixed. Except for certain ones.

The Flaw

There was a dog that came
at twilight every day.
A big dog. Kind of a mutt.
He would come and just stare at me.
I mean a dog, not barking, not licking,
just looking right through you.
I don’t particularly like dogs.
Well, I love stray dogs,
dogs who don’t like people.
And that’s the kind of dog picture
I would take if I ever took a dog picture.

is ever the same
as they said
it was.
It’s what I’ve
never seen before
that I recognize.
It’s a little bit
like walking
into an hallucination
without being
quite sure
whose it is.

You see someone on the street
and what you notice about them is the flaw.
It’s just extraordinary that we should

have been given these peculiarities.
And, not content with what we were given,
we create a whole other set.

And that’s what all this is a little about.
That somebody else’s tragedy
is not the same as your own.

Author's Note: "The three poems above are based largely on tape recordings of a series of classes Diane Arbus gave in 1971 as transcribed in Diane Arbus (Aperture, 1972). In addition, 'Devolving' integrates photo captions from the same book."

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection The Middle of Nowhere (Olivia Eden Publishing). He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.
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