Five Poems

Howie Good



You just smiled when anyone asked, “This the line for the last boat out of hell?” Flames waved in a busy kind of way, napalm on wildflowers. You had been searching awhile for a way towards the vast. On the outskirts of Narragansett, Rhode Island, you finally stopped to get something to eat. Tiny diamonds of snow adorned your hair in the parking lot of Mama’s Donuts & More.





Every night around midnight street peddlers appear on the sidewalk. Pieces of the wood used to make Jesus’s cross sell for about a dollar. The worst offenders are those who promise to teach what they know can’t be taught. But don’t think of me as missing or far from everywhere. I’m right here, where Lee Harvey Oswald shot Abraham Lincoln and ghosts of snow gust across the empty road. There’s no solution where there’s no mystery – sleep abandoned but the locomotive in the dream still burning. I feel rather than see the flutter of flames. Nobody, the survivor says if asked, ever really gets out of the crematorium.





Despite the time of day, night seems to be falling. America’s most famous serial killers howl like Siberian wolves. There’s nobody there who knows CPR, & it’s too hot to go for help. The heat has the small, hooded eyes of Joan of Arc’s inquisitor. She’s sitting by herself at a table in the corner, hands covering her face.

The gendarmes approach with dicks hanging out. A century before, Van Gogh was locked up in the madhouse for touching the local women. The street where it happened has been restored. Tell everybody – all business is piracy.

On a Friday in August, Christopher Columbus sailed west into the unknown. His country was the future. Now we know that no revolution can achieve what evolution can’t. Just give me a flashlight & a drawstring bag, & leave a car in the parking lot unlocked, & when I’m done rummaging, let me slip away like water, a silver bracelet with blue stones.





My mother,
if she were alive,
still wouldn’t be
to my father.

words require
more words
to interpret them,
music abides
in the radical silence
between notes.

Maybe it’s
a good thing
we die,

the bones
of the heart
like nails
being pulled
from ancient wood.




CIRCA 1960

The truck
would come slowly
down our street
after dinner sometimes,

& all us kids
would rush outside
& run behind it
through a misting
rain of DDT.

Other times we’d just sit
along the curb
& wait for darkness
& the sputtering
green flames of fireflies.