I sat in a room of eager doctoral students who nodded sagely even as the professor drew pentagrams on the board. Women with scratch ‘n’ sniff skin would enter my thoughts, but avoid leaving their names. The moon appeared from somewhere behind me like the holed white hull of a dream. There’s a suspicion that Marco Polo didn’t tell half of what he saw. Birds of certain countries could sing in three languages and lie and grieve in none.
LOVE AT SIXTY
The heart plucked
from your chest still beating
stumbles down the stairs
in mud-caked boots,
while I pause at the bottom
to think of the word,
what sounds like the killer hurricane
they say God commissioned
or, more likely, the noise
of a gunshot in a silent film.
Old, I am old, & a paraplegic angel
rides upon my back,
somebody else’s yearning
is growing in my chest
& bristles like the black scales
of a suit of Japanese armor
& sparkles even more
right after & when it rains.
ADOPT A PET
“Whose orange cat is that?”
The landlord of hell
maintains a blank face.
Like the sign that says,
No Parking Any Time,
the austere logic of it.
Just nod, and we’ll move
to a city that doesn’t exist.
And take the cat.
I open my mouth under the faucet. The water tastes distinctly of human smoke. An hour later, the dog pukes all over the floor. I dash outside but forget why when I see the across-the-street neighbor pointing and laughing. Time to move, I yell up the stairs to my wife. She doesn’t answer. So this is how it happens, I think. Everywhere I look there are skeletons with the skin still on.
Seven people dead, the news said.
I study the coolly swaying hips
of the woman walking in front of me.
This is all the music there is.
Or maybe this music is all there is.
See the difference? A lone baby shoe
at the entrance to a dark alley.
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 two other chapbooks forthcoming, Fog Area from Dog on a Chain Press and The Death of Me from Pig Ear Press.