blood and masks
Milk froze in a cow’s bulging udder. John had paint he said we might be able to use to fix things up a bit. I don’t work for free, but sometimes it just happens. I went off to collect drop clothes and brushes. No one had mentioned the new obstacles to traveling by day or the way everything was falling out of windows. By the time I got back, a van loaded with weapons was burning at the side of the road. To everyone’s amazement, the flames actually danced.
It’s a former crime scene that has never totally gotten over its ferocious past. The cops drive by a couple of times a day, but ignore the worst of what’s going on. There’s a lot of screaming and praying, and all sorts of variations on unhealthy habits. I come across a trail of blood that I follow through narrow streets and hidden ravines and then up the stairs to my mother’s kitchen. “These things happen,” she says with a resigned smile. I don’t belong here, I don’t. Sometimes I just want to cry out to God, “Hello. Where’s your beard?”
the future of memory
A woman, naked from the waist down, came to my room at three in the morning. “I am a gypsy,” she said, “and you?” I immediately knew something was wrong. What I wanted were card tricks and magic. All these years later, it’s still heartbreaking to talk about. Everything that was alive is gone. Sometimes, though, I can feel the light from outside coming in. It’s like getting a blue hug from the sky.
where every channel is the same
A woman with a grim mouth but a motherly manner leads the children deeper into the forest. The whole point of flowers is that they die. You pull the cushions off the couch, the books off the shelves, try to pull up the floorboards with your bare hands. “Time to electrocute your thinking,” the medical tech cheerfully says. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before, flesh and fur being scrapped away with elk-bone scrappers and the hide made pliable with the buffalo’s mashed brains. The man in the car behind you, incensed at the stop-and-go traffic, gropes under his seat for a five-shot Mexican revolver. For those who know the ending, every channel is the same.
howie good is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize from Thoughtcrime Press, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry.