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

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

Sonata for Gun, Knife and Fist

I sat in my car at the intersection next
to the school mesmerized by the way
the fire was raging from the windows.

Every day I think about what I’ve lost.
John has paint he says we might be able
to use to clean up the burnt-over areas

a bit, but more things can go wrong than
right. I’m tired of this. I’m tired of crying.
There’s a bullet hole in my child’s car seat.

Howie Good, 2018

Remixed works:

Mass Shootings Spur Movements, But Gun Violence Is Constant For Some Americans, by Asia Simone Burns
The Mice Who Evolved to Live on Cheese Fries: Prowling New York With an Evolutionary Biologist, by Christopher Bonanos

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