Intimations of Modernity by Howie Good

street preacher

Photograph by Don Scott

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Intimations of Modernity

You hear the screech of tires and some screams. You hear the roof vibrating and moving through the night. You hear about so-and-so committing suicide. You have to think of all the sounds like they’re a symphony, otherwise you’ll go crazy. You didn’t do anything wrong. You just want to know what actually happened. You glance one way and then the other. You ask, “Oh why can’t they get that baby out of the ground?” You don’t belong here. You need to leave. You have to have a bit of an attitude to pull it off. The police are the same as during Franco’s time, only they had horses back then. 

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The messiah of some obscure sect raged up and down the sidewalk, yelling, “I shall destroy all of the civilized world! You shall die by your own evil creation!” There was ash already in the air. I had never been in a war zone but I was pretty sure that this was what it felt like. By week’s end, I had become obsessed with my escape route. I pored over Google Maps, travel guides, railroad timetables. But, of course, when I opened the front door, I was confronted with fire. People just stood there and watched, happy to lurk unrecognized in the noise.

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I’ve read many times in newspapers of some kind of shooting. But actually experience it? No. Never. It’s like everyone is just doing Tarantino knockoffs. They’re imagining the pain of the bullets hitting them. I’ve seen the really bad stuff on television. They shoot seven people in the head, and then they rush to their cars and leave. What else could you have expected? This is our history, everywhere full of blood. It’s clear and simple, and it’s in HD.

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No, I don’t get it. How does anyone sleep at night or get through the day? We don’t yet have the tools to see what we’d really like to see. I can’t remember now why I ever thought we would. As we walk around, we meet orphans and autodidacts and then a man drinking in the woods. He keeps saying he’s going to kill someone. And no cops for miles. So, yeah, the best part of the day is early in the morning, very early, before something that hasn’t happened yet moves and just as suddenly stops moving. 

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A baby is crying on the ground. Everyone else is dead. No one I ask can tell me if this is real. “Sorry,” they just say. That’s the point. How we just don’t see very much of anything. There are so many refugees, and more coming all the time, and most of them have only a bit of white fluff, a frail bicycle, a bowlful of agriculture. I was once in a pretty bad car wreck. And it’s like that. We have a strange way of repeating history. I say “holy fuck” about 1,400 times a day.

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howie_good

Howie Good is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize for Poetry and forthcoming from Thoughtcrime Press.

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You can view the photographs of Don Scott at this link:

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