Howie Good is the author of THE DEATH ROW SHUFFLE, a poetry collection forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.
The Death of Historical Memory
A former prodigy, in commemoration of the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima, played a burning piano on the beach. And though the smoke choked him, and the scorching heat of the fire melted his eyeballs and peeled the skin off his face and hands, he just kept playing until the piano stopped being able to produce sounds.
I discovered under the couch a severed doll’s head I didn’t know I had. Now I often sit waiting amid crumpled balls of paper and discarded books and magazines for the next thing to happen – say, for the tree outside my window to appear suspended like an astronaut in space.
A Toast to the Dark
My maternal grandparents arrived in America on a ship that was built in the same shipyard as the Titanic. All these years later, white judges in black robes are still pondering who was responsible. Sometimes they burst into tears, sometimes into flames. Sometimes they slurp Chivas Regal straight from the bottle for hours. When they do, the destroying angels clink glasses.
Punishment Without Crime
Oompah-pah music and traditional German drinking songs floated up from the street festival into the third-floor courtroom. I shifted uneasily from foot to foot as I stood before the scowling judge. One prosecution witness after another had described in specious detail my attitudes, conversations, habits, and interests. There was even testimony about the transparent Jewishness of my penis. Now it was finally my turn to speak. I had just begun when the judge interjected, “Spare us your life philosophy.” His face was grave. He studied me with cold, squinty eyes as if calculating exactly how much a person can bear.
The Titanic Sails at Dawn
Against everyone’s advice, I adopted a retired bomb-sniffing dog. The dog was like something out of an animal fable. He was personable and chatty, but restless, impatient to go on adventures. I called him “Flash” – after the flashing lights of a migraine, I jokingly told anyone who happened to ask. My real mistake, though, was allowing myself to be persuaded by the dog’s entreaties. We’ve been stranded ever since at the land’s edge where the gulls cry, “Go, go.”