READING THE RIOT ACT
I look up from what I’m reading at a bare tree framed in the kitchen window, a puffy little robin shivering on the nearest branch. In an unknown street turned down by mistake, someone is always being asked, “Last name?”
All of us who ever wondered who it was that invented logic expect to be arrested for things we didn’t do, adopting a language, for example, that has no word for the past, what sounds through the fence like shaved heads and tattooed numbers, hunched men lighting cigarettes, as surprised as I am at how many books my arms can carry.
A SHORT HISTORY OF A DECADE
The fat shadow of a zeppelin crawled over upturned faces, my stoned-out smile queasily in place. What’s the duty of the storyteller if not to tell what happened in the order that it happened? A cat left a dead bird by the front door as a gift, curiously without any blood or marks of violence on it. The spruce tree became a cello. There was no such thing as cancer of the heart. The technical term was cardiomyopathy. Eyes, as joyless as zeroes, gathered whatever would burn.
Look out the window, the caller said, summer’s over. My face was a searchlight aimed at nothing. The hum I heard was just loud enough for me to believe that insects and birds might still exist.
A blonde in Boston screams my name while having drunken sex with a stranger. I never liked these hours, the homeless at every corner and in front of every church.
Up before the sun, you clean your shotgun. It’s a little too early for me to think about dinner. The shorter shells, the more rounds you can load. Your hand waves goodbye at the end of someone else’s arm.
Everything I leave behind, Thoreau said, is to be burned – moose, Indian, tree. It took almost a whole book of matches before the flame would stay lit.
its hooked beak
Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the new poetry collection, Dreaming in Red, from Right Hand Pointing. All proceeds from the sale of the book go to a crisis center, which you can read about here: https://sites.google.com/site/rhplanding/howie-good-dreaming-in-red. He is also the author of numerous chapbooks, including most recently The Devil’s Fuzzy Slippers from Flutter Press and Personal Myths from Writing Knights Press. He has another chapbook, Fog Area, forthcoming from Dog on a Chain Press.