Four Cut-Up Poems

by Howie Day

Someone to Love

I heard shouting through the window.
Screams. Commotion.
Then the sound of gunshots.

I know what a gun sounds like.
It was bang-bang-bang.

I thought, “Get out of here.
The person you love will be somewhere,
there, standing last in line.”

Just because you’re older doesn’t mean
that we’ve stopped wanting to be with someone.
It doesn’t mean that you’re dead.

I was just crossing the street
and, obviously, her Afro is just amazing.
Her scarf, the way it is blowing in the wind,
I thought was just so beautiful.
You can really feel her walking toward me and past me.

And then I was like, wait, what am I doing?
It was kind of dark outside.
They usually let us know that ahead of time.

Seed texts:

The Inner Telescope

Imagine we find ourselves floating.
The experience – maybe even 60

to 70 percent of it – is the sounds.
These tiny little specks of pepper

in the sky will emerge, and then
they’ll drop down, become cranes,

and they’re here. But by the third
day, you’re going to start asking other

kinds of questions. Behind every
da Vinci, Velázquez, Goya or Picasso,

there are countless dead rabbits.
And we are still killing each other,

so maybe there hasn’t been so much
evolution after all. We point a telescope

to the stars. But this is a telescope that
from the stars we point to ourselves.

Seed texts:

Strange Signs

The gods talked to me. I painted pieces of bread,
Arrow shirts, movie stars. Under the mud, I’m sure
there are many more. I should have closed my eyes.
I really should have. Most people don’t know I can

see out. Most people are disconnected. They experience
life through their cellphones. In general people are
beaten, hurt. You’re supposed to see yourself in them.
After that, a conga line of the dead start following you

wherever you go. People rarely come back from those
trips. No, I don’t get it. The knife is not real, the blood is
not real. It was the first time I felt that way – that I was
somewhere and not there. Oh, America, how can this be?

Seed texts:


I saw a black mass of smoke.
I felt the fire touching me through my window.
I heard a snap or a crackle.
I saw the flames rising.

A bird gave this to me because I freed her wing
from a tangle of balloons.

Stranded between one act and another,
jump, turn clockwise,
cut with the kitchen knife
through the beer belly of the Republic.

The more a visitor is willing
to play in my nightmare,
the more all of us will receive.

The island sinks now, but it’s still there
just beneath the waves.

They came and knocked on the door.
Why didn’t you open the door?
My daughter could have been in there bleeding.
I can’t keep doing this.
The bridge is going to collapse.
They’re saying I have to walk,
but it’s raining and dark.

Whatever happened here,
it was at the wrong time, wrong place.
This place is very dangerous.
I imagined that there might be someone with a gun.

Crowded places, we try to avoid.
Malls, we try to avoid.
So much is coming at us.
It’s like watching your heart outside your body.

Seed texts:, 3/31/17

Howie Good is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize from ThoughtCrime Press, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry.

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