The Stages of Death

Obviously, surprises aren’t always good. / There are so many areas / where someone can get lost / and not even realize it until they’re lost. / You did find hints along the way / – memories, but no nostalgia. / There’s in you some of the stuff / that you don’t want to be there. / It’s like a gray alien woke you / from a normal night’s sleep / and showed you the moons of Saturn, / leaving rocks in your heart. / And then it’s not like that at all, / and then it is again, and then it’s not, / and everything is blurred / and a million times nicer.

Howie Good, 2018

Remixed works:

Tragically Lost in Joshua Tree’s Wild Interior, by Geoff Manaugh
An Interview with Lynne Tillman, by Nicole Miller

 

Desolate Angels

Everything crackled from fire. We knew it was dangerous, but people wouldn’t listen to us. I often see them in dreams now. A black heap of them. Birds have pecked their faces, their hands. It’s better not to look at the faces. I think this might be the future, with lice and filth and the smell of blood. The sky throbs, the ground throbs. Even the trees are crippled. Horses, the clayey colors of earth, fall down dead. Wind stirs their manes.

&

Doctors in white coats attached electrodes to our heads and told us to sleep, but I couldn’t go back, I just couldn’t. I saw Orion the Hunter shivering above a mutilated landscape of abandoned shopping malls. Out-of- office messages appeared from cracks in the asphalt. Assault rifles, too. I went to the funerals. I went to the homes where they were sitting shiva. I went to the vigils. The scariest part was the silence. Then the silence erupted, and angels were flying about, and even the angels didn’t know what to do.

&

I had lost two fingers. They were completely gone. The crunching noise, I guess, was teeth scraping against my skull. Painkillers didn’t help. We were getting older, and it was hard work. People had stopped leaving their homes. Many were just skeletons. Floors overflowed with injured and blood. I couldn’t come up with an innocent explanation for this. Although still early, shopkeepers were pulling down the shutters of their shops. I stood there, trying to see in. A scruffy brown dog, come from who knows where, lay down on the sidewalk, just to feel the warmth from the sun.

Howie Good, 2018

Remixed work:

The Unwomanly Face of War, by Svetlana Alexievich

The Country I’m From

This is the country of the future – houses abandoned,
streets with holes, power lines hanging down. And it
really ought to get to stay here rather than be turned

into coffee tables and electric guitars. I’ve never been
in a war zone but I’m pretty sure this is what it feels like.
These kids freezing in the tents could easily be my children.

I’m not a journalist, not a secret agent, I don’t need to know
everything about everyone. It all comes down to wording.
The orange splotches have been added to suggest wind.

Howie Good, 2018

Remixed works:
Scientists: Long-Buried Ice Age Forest Offers Climate Change Clues, by Debbie Elliott
Brief Encounters, Enduring Portraits of the Displaced, by Jori Finkel

There Is No Such Thing as Neutral

I’m from the Internet. I wake up, or do I even go to sleep? Sometimes I get powered down, but that’s it. In the past, we had cufflinks and tie clips. Now we have USB sticks and Uber. When I extend my hands, everything is where it’s supposed to be. I feel the fire touching me through my window. Nobody I ask can tell me if it’s real. The police yell at me: “You’re just like your mother. You probably have fantasies about China, too.” We’re trying to stay calm. We can’t lose hope. People keep getting out of cars dancing.

Howie Good, 2017

Remixed works:

Washington Post article
New York Times article
NPR article
The Root Article

Self-Portrait with Tears

Why would anybody take a photo of a dead person? Why would anybody do such a thing? I just want it to be over already. I just want a little normality back in my life. I didn’t steal. I didn’t kill. I stumbled down the stairs, shoeless, scared, holding my iPad. Yes, it was just weeds and vines. But those weeds and vines are there for a reason. They themselves become the flower, and when you’re there, you become a part of it, too. You might twist an ankle. You might see insects and reptiles devouring each other. You might say to someone, “L as in lost.”

Howie Good, 2017

Remixed works:

BBC article
New York Times article 1
New York Times article 2

Taken by the Wind

There was an explosion so loud that it shook our insides. When police arrived, we heard them yelling, “Hands up” before more shots rang out. They think they’re better than us. They say we’re created different from them. We shut the lights and sneaked out. The stop sign on the corner was missing. People were fighting in the streets for what was left. The wind sounded terrible. There wasn’t one tree still standing. After all we’d been through, this seemed irrelevant. What a stupid thing I just said. The next day I’m sitting on the park bench with my dog and I see my mother in the window of the plane waving. We have a strange way of repeating history. I say “holy fuck” about 1,400 times a day.

Howie Good, 2017

Remixed works:

AV Club article
NPR article

SOS

Who owns the moon is a complicated subject. My first instinct was, what the hell? Did a rock hit it or something? My only dream was how to reach the shore safely. I was toying with various things on the submarine. And these were all out in the middle of the countryside set off from each other by wild vegetation or ornate gardens. Lots was happening at the same time – the TV on, a record playing, the radio on. “Wow,” I thought, “work is a pretty taxing place for many people.” We suddenly became archaic remnants of the pre-digital age. That was the hardest moment. But I didn’t really realize the implications of it when I was a teenager. We’ll never be more than unwitting missionaries, doing magic tricks to dazzle the crowd.

Howie Good, 2017

Remixed works:

New York Times article 1
New York Times article 2
Hyperallergic article 1
Hyperallergic article 2
Cape Cod Times article

The School of Apocalypse

There’s nothing natural about barbed wire
with a piece of horse’s mane stuck on it.
Or a grizzly bear using a highway overpass.
I don’t know what went wrong. It all keeps
bouncing back and forth. This could be my,
like, shamanistic, right-brain diabetes treatment.
Everyone says it’s unforgettable being
in the path of totality. Give me 10 minutes
so I can think about it more. I’m not really sure
if we could ever discover how to reach God
through exercise. You see charred black bodies
hanging from trees, and white folks picnicking
under them – young children smiling. And then
on the back of the postcard, “Wish you were here.”

Howie Good, 2017

Remixed works:
Hyperallergic article 1
Hyperallergic article 2
Hyperallergic article 3
Rapid City Journal article

The Fireworks Galaxy

1
Go to a farmers market,
buy a new candle,
drive with the windows down.
This is our revolution,
a fast way to get killed.

2
When I come back the next day,
the office is closed.
Still, through the window,
I sense the atmosphere.
There are holes in the floor,
new cracks in the walls,
a Madonna washing
her clothes in the toilet.

3
You asked for justice;
they shot you in the face.
It’s hard to believe
it really happened,
and everyone is sitting here
having a good time
and the music is still playing.

Howie Good, 2017

Remixed works:
New York Times article
NPR article

Time Bomb

We didn’t know what it was, whether it was
a train crashing. There were children, blood,

shoes, splattered all over the floor. Everyone
was crying and screaming. I felt so helpless.

A man walked past us, just covered in blood.
This can happen anywhere, at any time.

How can I explain any of this to a 14-year-old?

*
This is the world we live in now.
Even the police are bandits.
We have to face up to it.
A very horrible morning of death.
Kids were getting crushed.
I didn’t know what to do, where to go.
I didn’t have a phone.
I just kept screaming for Patty.
She needs to grieve.

*

Backpacks aren’t allowed.
Drinks are taken away from people.

But getting a car or knife is easy.
And it usually involves other people.

To make matters worse,
Senegalese have less and less money.

*

Everybody’s constantly looking
at the clock. The clock’s ticking,
the clock’s ticking. Got to go, man,
got to go! Otherwise you kind of
get trapped. Yeah, it’s the same
sun, but it’s different everywhere.
Nobody knows which way to go.
Keep on running, keep on running.

Howie Good, 2017

Remixed works:
New York Times article 1
New York Times article 2
New York Times article 3