Howie Good

The Story of Art

Toulouse-Lautrec would often be found hiding behind the couch or in the bathtub, a charcoal pencil pinched between his fingers like a barking dog. They tried but failed to get from him the secret to how to draw a windy day. About every six months, you’ll see something like that, a couple of kids beating a beggar to death with their skateboards. When I die, I want my clothes to be burned with me, so I can live in them forever. “What is wrong with you?” everyone asks. I have explained it time and time again – there’s ash already in the air.




People don’t remember, sometimes I think they don’t even understand, where they are. They break into sheds and smash what they can. They don’t listen to their mothers. They drive cars into lakes. When given a choice not to read, they will almost always go for that option. That isn’t necessarily the best time to wear a party hat, but they just feel they have to. Oh, America, how can this be? There are no windows and only the faintest indication of a door, and then a white car arrives, and armed men rush out of it.


Yesterday was supposed to be a holiday and a celebration. This is the eye of a woman who participated. I want to go nuts, shout, “What the fuck?!” It’s hard to believe it really happened, and everyone is sitting here and having a good time, and the music is still playing.


Once 3 o’clock hit, you got a chance to hear God speaking to you. You learned just how scary discovery could be. Bits of brain ended up stuck to the wall, with fat, sluggish flies crawling through the mess. It was the most hideous thing, but I couldn’t look away. I like to see things that maybe I’m not supposed to see. And now even my sleep is full of noise, a volley of screams so loud it shakes my insides.



Early in the Evening

Storekeepers were pulling down
the grates over their storefronts.

We stood there, just trying to see in.
The cops drove by a couple times,

same as usual. They didn’t know
if something more would happen,

Orion, a boom box on his shoulder,
malignant shit-kickers on his feet,

crowding into a palely darkening sky
without even asking permission.



Coffee with Kafka

What story should we tell?
We have already told the one

about the woman found near the church
holding her own eyeball.

There’s a Starbucks there,
and if you go early, it’s not too busy,

but also worn out because of war,
and the wind and sea, too.

He was pointed at, bruised, bumped.
That’s why she was carrying this.

It was the most extreme thing
you could do inside that wouldn’t kill people.



Skull City

The emptiness is real,
the starting point,
how it all feels,
the mother of all things,
a mule, the amoeba,
an expanse of trees
in the distance,
what the shade is like
under there,
only a few colors,
the only thing left,
a piece of music so familiar
I could play it
over again in my head.




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