Howie Good’s latest poetry collections include Fugitive Pieces from Right Hand Pointing Press and The Cruel Radiance of What Is from Another New Calligraphy.
Tomorrow Never Happens
Whichever phone number I call, the suicide hotline rings. That’s the part I don’t get. Then the scene changes – a burned girl, about 10, hooked up to a morphine drip. Off in the distance, skyscrapers loom through 9/11 dust. I have no plans, and no secrets either. A camera is being developed for satellites that can view facial expressions from space. But don’t worry. The government can’t constitutionally use it yet. And unless you live somewhere sunny, they can’t see you anyway.
Swallowing a handful of pills solves every problem, although I didn’t necessarily want it that way. Nearby is another me that I can’t see but that sees me. It’s impossible when looking around not to imagine some prior tragedy, all the deserted cities the jungle overgrew. Whatever happened to the right to be lazy? I try to tell myself that if less is more, then nothing must be even more. A woman outside the Stop & Shop is collecting money in a can, her eyes like rusted bullet holes.
You look up from what you’re doing, interrupted by a chain of thunderstorms moving through the region, something that might mean something, broken people and animals, and the way they stand, and the trouble they get in. The wallpaper pattern repeats the image of a body hanging from a lamp post. It sounds horrifying, but that’s the idea. You and everyone else have begun to suffer the effects. Often eyes become red. So I press my eyes shut. This is wrong, I say and keep saying until my voice gives out.
A farmer and his wife, after their horse dies, want to carry machine guns so they can intimidate passing motorists. They go immediately to a lawyer. No skin off my ass. In the United States we have a curious relationship to death – a very crazy old man, unanchored by horizons, riding on a cloud beyond the beyond, where simple words look like galaxies.
Some years are bright and funky – and even reportedly saved a man’s life once. But she had a sad little funeral. It was rainy. It was all wrong. And I was thinking, God, she loved life so much, everything in the world, including the air. Like the Sufis say, “Life is a dream, and death is waking up.” Not that anyone will.
Source for #4: Allison Meier, “The Funeral of Artists” at http://hyperallergic.com/179082/the-funerals-of-artists