Four Prose Poems

by Howie Good

The Structures Tremble

What are they doing having sex in the sky? When I say torso, it’s a body without head, arms, and legs. It’s had me spooked for years. I was half-kneeling half-standing and that’s when I got hit. Didn’t see it coming, didn’t see it leaving. It was like being on a motorcycle and getting hit by a truck. It was like boom. And then, “Oh.” This was not an act of terrorism. This was not a hate crime. The atmosphere is sad, but a happy sad – noise, screaming, SWAT with big rifles going down the street in front of me. It’s time to bring the statues down. I worked sixty years of my life and it seems the only thing I did was this fucking red machine.

Not the Whole Story

The king used to live there. It’ll feel a bit weird as your eyes recover from that. The blood stayed in the water a long time. Some people didn’t want to see it. There was this driver all banged up and there was this one girl bleeding out of her face pretty bad. I kind of just shrugged and said, “Well, you’re going to see a bright light.” People started yelling “Shark!” They didn’t storm into the room, perhaps because I opened the door in my underwear and my wife was still lying in bed. So, wow. It takes at least 12 hours before we can tell if anything has happened. You can’t just go in and plant trees and walk away.

Broken Atoms

To make something that will rot is a statement. I visited places to ask their help. Several people just didn’t even want to talk. I thought, ‘Whoa. What are they doing? Why are they doing that?’ You could leave fake voice messages posing as someone’s mom. Or defame someone and post the audio samples online. I put a stick in the ground, and ugly stuff bubbled up from it. People realized that grandma’s jam wasn’t so bad after all.

*

A person just jumped in front of the train. He looked like what everyone thinks the typical American guy should look like, but maybe not actually is. It started as a kind of tongue-in-cheek thing. He kept saying he was going to kill someone. Yeah, well, we haven’t had a wedding or a baptism for quite some time. We mostly have funerals. No one is outside the system. Even when you ride the train, all you see is this black forest with nothing in it.

*

People were screaming; people were throwing up because the smoke was so thick. I guess I’m very confused about why this scene. Imagine getting fired. Or you got dumped, or you didn’t get into the college you wanted, or imagine whatever it is that makes you feel weak. It sucks. It’s defeating. The memory stayed with me and that’s what made me think about breaking things. Everyone thought that I was crazy. They weren’t wrong. I partied too much. And I was always begging the eagle to help me to get home safe. All I can say is, if the phone rings, please answer.

Eclipse of the Heart

My son would tell me, “Father, you have to pray.” Yeah, yeah. People hang Gandhi’s portrait on their walls, but they do not follow Gandhi’s rules. An unknown man armed with a knife, moving along the central streets of the city, attacked passers-by. Panic killed those people. They were screaming. They didn’t have words. There’s another whole thing going on underneath with the wind, and we have no control over that. Do you see things coming out of the top of the sun? Do you see things coming out of the bottom of the sun? Everybody sees it a little differently. I’ll stand and watch it get dark. What an experience, at one in the afternoon, to be in total darkness.


Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize for Poetry from Thoughtcrime Press. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.
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