Three poems – Howie Good

Howie Good

Preparing for the Post-apocalypse

A military band strikes up a rousing tune. The age of criminal responsibility — that is, eligibility for the death penalty — must have just been lowered again, this time to twelve. Even the innocent have begun to speak in code. “Rain” means that a neighbor has been arrested, “snow” that a curious bystander is missing. Easily, almost absent mindedly, a shadow on the scale of a metropolis has evolved. You’re not familiar with the science of it or, for that matter, with what happens to those who believe their own computers spy on them while they sleep. This is ironic, as when a book that took years to write takes you only a couple of days to read.

I have returned repeatedly to the beginning, where the night is still being tilled by insomniacs. Ideas come to me the same way they come to flowers, encountering the same bookcases without books, the same insults, the same anachronistic Soviet aesthetics, the same darkness in the same unknown. Grandma Gussie (my father’s mother) lived her last 10 years groping for bowls and spoons in the ever-deepening gloom of glaucoma. A cart is bound to appear sooner or later to collect her body. Hundreds of us line the street in excited anticipation. A photographer, a black drape over his head, is setting up a shot. I have a question. Why does it have to be in focus?

Clouds of Zyklon B, guaranteed to kill 99.9 percent of human bacteria in 20 minutes, roll in at dusk. I wish now that I had finished college. It’s a wish without any discernible purpose as events gain momentum. The county poorhouse begins to rock wildly from side to side. What would Jesus do? Kiss his ass goodbye is what. Every day 2,400 Americans — give or take — go missing, hiding out under assumed names, abducted off the street by strangers, or, as in this case, burned up like fuel in a rocket streaking from the tomb.

Bones of the Disappeared

It is
hard work
being
stranded
at the end
of the industrial
age
with blue
whales
a dying
giant sequoia,
hard work
detecting
something
you can
never really
be sure
is there,
hard work
imagining
assembling
an ocean
from tiny
polka dots
of rain

Eye of the Beholder

A beauty product
promises I’ll see
fewer wrinkles,
and I might very well,
but only if go
progressively blind.
Vision decays,
rivers die,
governments murder.
Oh so what!
I’m here with you,
you’re naked
except for John Lennon glasses.

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