Like Gravel

Wet things smell stronger.
The blossom, pressed
in a book, has been done
to death.

When I was born, you waited.
My head heavy,

heavy with the light
of late afternoon.
The grasses in the field

have toppled. There’s
no accounting for happiness.
A wound is sometimes
buried, dispossessed,

like gravel on the bend.

Shloka Shankar, 2019

Remixed works:

Lines from poems by Jane Kenyon

Snake in a Dream

There was a guillotine in the basement. It felt suspicious. So I started cutting out images from the newspaper and transferring them onto the surface of prison-issued soaps. And then I tried to figure out a way to do that onto the prison sheets. The residue that accumulated on the floor and walls took on a life of its own. Every inch of space was utilized to the fullest. Someone asked me how I navigate the space. I said I jump. But what do we do now that the window provides enough natural light to keep the snake alive?

Howie Good, 2019

Remixed works:

A View from the Easel, by Deena ElGenaidi
Formerly Incarcerated Artists Visualize Healing, by Jasmine Weber

Skin in the Game

A panhandler with the oversized noggin of a papier-maché figure stops me outside the liquor store. He says he needs two more bucks to get a bottle. Marlene, he says, is resting with a beer and the dude that shot her whose nickname is Rabbit. Has anyone asked us how we see things? No! We’re all on the road. But now it’s really getting fun. I dig some change out of my pocket. Everything from Beethoven to Beyoncé is meant to be played loudly.

Howie Good, 2019

Remixed works:

Mega Millions jackpot enters ‘uncharted territory’ at record $1.6 billion, by Amy B. Wang and Alex Horton
Witness to the Killing, by Wesley Lowery and Dalton Bennett
A Peculiar Los Angeles Sculpture Is Brought Back to Life After Decades, by Matt Stromberg

The Rough

after “Trust in God” (anon.)

Trust and earth and guard more.
The tempest heart threatens, failing rough
light. Chill palls trust. Cheerless, God,

for his lonely bower, bears thy hour
dreary above His river. Pleasure and strength
may rough, dark looks lend thee.

Lonely grows mortal, a fountain
bleakest of breast. Rover and fount.
Rover and fount. Mountain fight threatens in.

Dark the earth, worn the strength,
will might hour His life. Light a trust for
the rough bears within thy will.

Brian A. Salmons, 2019

Remixed work:

Trust in God in American Monthly Magazine (January 1836), by Anonymous

Found Poem Instructions

What you do is
take a piece of text,
and you ignore
the grammar,
ignore the word order,

you just regard it
as a bag of words,
and once you’ve done that,
the different words
in the bag can be mixed

with red diamonds,
and surrounded
by sirens and lights
or the afternoon winds
off the Pacific.

Howie Good, 2018

Remixed works:

Falsehood and Justice, by Henry Chapman
A Songwriting Mystery Solved: Math Proves John Lennon Wrote ‘In My Life’, by Scott Simon and Ned Wharton
A View from the Easel, by Deena ElGenaidi

A Sleep of Crowns

Cover your needs.
Descend to your roots.
[your... your... your... your with your...]
Bleed willingly (that’s a good thing).

Answer the brook.
Lips to secrets meet,
the wounded answer–desire.

Your whiteness (of course
it isn’t) in a seasonless world;

feeling what you feel,
hurry. Release

the I fragment.

Your eventide,
a sleep of crowns.

Shloka Shankar, 2018

Remixed works:
Kahlil Gibran on The Courage to Weather the Uncertainties of Love, by Maria Popova
John Steinbeck on Falling in Love: A 1958 Letter of Advice to His Lovesick Teenage Son, by Maria Popova

Jesus Was Homeless

Where are you from? Why are you here? Leave us alone. We’re tattered. We’re broken. The smell of poverty clings to even the folds of our skin. We sleep afraid, we wake up afraid. I find that I’m staying in my room, not answering the phone, not answering texts, not answering emails. Others have taken to the woods or hide in town behind piles of rubble. There’s one stone that people go and kiss. This stone has almost melted. From kissing, melted!

Howie Good, 2018

Remixed works:

Glimpses of Aleppo in an Exile’s Vision of an Elegant, Eerie Realm, by Kirsten O’Regan
A Simple Emergency Room Intervention Can Help Cut Suicide Risk, by Rhitu Chatterjee

A God’s Eye

It could have been stolen. It could have been accidentally thrown out. Whichever, the God’s eye is gone. I’ve looked for it where things accumulate, where people leave things. Every house has a corner like that. I’ve been to the market, too. I’ve walked down those cobblestone streets. But I made a conscious decision not to give myself a plan B. I’ve tried everything I can. I can’t keep drowning, I just can’t. I pull up to a traffic light and see a flame thrower, and someone wanting to sell me little Popeye figurines. And in the end, the answer is no.

Howie Good, 2018

Remixed work:

Beer with a Painter: Alfredo Gisholt, by Jennifer Samet