By Howie Good
Nota bene: The prose poems below incorporate direct quotations gathered from a variety of journalistic sources. They belong to a series of poems that explores the possibility of reconfiguring through the technique of collage the received meanings of conventional narrative forms. Sources include NPR, New York Times, BBC, Democracy Now, CNBC, Hyperallergic, Masslive.com, The Guardian, and Cape Cod Times.
Trial and Error
It was a typical morning. She was hurt and walking to her house. There was someone there. He was crying. He was scared. This wasn’t the film I thought I was making. We were all in shock and those who could lie on the floor did so. What have we come to? Every time we think we have turned it off, the siren sounds again. The only other time I felt like this is when my father died.
Oh, a moving painting but with sound! We have even replicated the cracks in the canvas. Maybe girls come into it a little bit. They’re about shine. They arrived here last night. They wanted to kill because they all had knives. We say hello and shake hands. I wasn’t thinking of anything. I just did it.
I have no friends back home. Is there something to be gained from this loss? You drink coffee, you smoke cigarettes. It’s as if you have 30 passwords and the attacker only has to match one. I heard him load a gun. And then I saw his gun was black and his jacket was black.
The country is so huge that we don’t always understand it. It was like, “What the hell are they doing?” Then when the second shot went off, the three of us looked at each other. We didn’t know what was going to happen next. We decided to put down flowers and dog crackers, and light a candle.
People would stop me at airports and tell me how much they hated me. I didn’t realize until later that many of them were criminally insane. They don’t want to turn off the information, ever. It’s a horrible way to search. It’s like you’ve lost your car keys at night in your backyard and you’re looking for them through a toilet paper roll with a flashlight.
Now people can watch at 7 in the evening, if they want. I had never seen anything like this before. You have to be able eat in the dark while still paying attention to Hugh Jackman doing something crazy. The whole purpose is to make this last forever. In a hundred years, they could be doing car shows. But I kind of doubt it.
Door to the River
If you look at 16 pictures of someone walking through a door, you think, “It really is a dance.” But now it’s all a bit of a blur. Everything should be designed so that that just never happens. I like to see things that maybe I’m not supposed to see – burning canvases floating on the river, big flames rising from the mountain. These are mostly places that don’t exist particularly anywhere. Or they could be everywhere. I love to go out early in the morning and see what’s bloomed overnight.
The Colorful Shadows of Imminent Danger
The projectionist once in a while would make a mistake and put reel four before reel two. People still made sense of it. As long as you knew the alphabet and could count, you could watch America go by. I completely collapsed, and my children were wondering why I was crying. The important thing was to go into another world. Ideally, you would have a quiet, dark room – no interruptions. There were 20 guys down there when I started. I heard the cries of “Attack! Attack!” You could feel the ground shake. “Oh shit!” someone said. “This is it.” The whole area was bright. I was feeling that boom till the morning. Now I’m the last one. It feels like my heart is going to stop. Everyone is running after gold. Some dumb girl is running through the woods naked screaming. She’s the reason this is about to happen to you.
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. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.