Howie Good

Philosophy for the Shallow

What a story is about isn’t just what a story is about. There are four gray men in a gray car, two in the front and two in the back. “Who are they?” someone asks. They are four gray men in a gray car! It’s a good thing he can swim. Trees are being cut for lumber and otherwise tortured and imperiled. In truth, I wish I was still lying in bed with an unsuitable mother. Reporters crowd around. Celebrity deaths usually come in threes. Although no one seems to be listening – or, if listening, understanding – I keep repeating where the comma goes. The four gray men climb out of the gray car. To paraphrase F. Bacon, the whole point of flowers is that they die.

Christ on a Crutch

This isn’t music. All that is happening inside the body is that electricity is being pushed around. After the baby bump appears, things get very strange. Nervous shore birds develop a habit of looking back over their shoulder. Anyone who can flee the area has fled. Death takes the form of light and shadow and all that stuff.

With every step, patches of dirty snow crackle underfoot. I’m not where I thought I was. You can feel a disaster coming just by looking in the shop windows. Listen carefully because our options have changed. Press 1) for airplane bottles of vodka 2) for made of actual wood and stones 3) for a saint studded with arrows or penetrated by spikes.

As I come around a curve in the road, the sky abruptly fills with bone-white swirls and squiggles. Remorse sets in. I have only pretended to hear someone playing an invisible piano. A dark-haired hippie chick sits sprawled in a sandbox with a pail and shovel between her legs. She’s half-smiling at a wino babbling to himself on a bench. “And those not burned up by death rays,” he sounds like he’s saying, “become their slaves.” The universal symbol for handicapped hasn’t been invented yet. I discover V-shaped gashes left by the suffering that takes place in anonymous rooms. I discover the century’s eyes are red from crying. I discover Christ gets around just OK on a crutch.

Howie Good’s latest poetry collections are Bad for the Heart (Prolific Press) and Dark Specks in a Blue Sky (Another New Calligraphy). He is recipient of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry for his forthcoming collection Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements.
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