Two Poems by Howie Good

train car
Chili Con Carnage
The train was crowded, dirty, excruciatingly slow. I had boarded with the idea of arriving that night in time to be a character in someone else’s dreams. It doesn’t have to make sense, but, for a while, the train ran parallel to an oily black river in which naked corpses floated. None of the passengers traveling with small children even attempted to shield the children’s eyes. And that was fine with me. Growing up, I spent many hours watching TV alone in the basement in the dark.
I said to the doctor, “I’m dying.” He said, “How’s that my fault?” I had been suffering for about a month. The doctor said it was my body attacking itself. “It’ll scald you,” he said with unexpected enthusiasm, “peel the skin and muscle right off your bones.” I wondered if this was a joke of some sort. I decided it must be and climbed down from the exam table. When I opened the door to leave, a man with a bloody face, his hands bound behind his back, was just standing there waiting his turn.
I wake up in bed alone, with drool and sweat and maybe worse on my pillow. History is dead. Scum is all that’s left. The sun keeps showing up regardless.
 ‘Grief Is Love Made Homeless’
I was born shivering in a small Midwestern city named for a now-extinct tribe. As I grew older, I was given platitudes to speak and warned not to mix up the words or mistake their meaning. Occasionally, the sky would brighten, but never for long, and then people would cluster on street corners and in churches and under highway bridges. Some would be crying, having just learned that being guilty was a part of life. This happened again and again and again. It might have been more endurable if the dark wasn’t always so dark.
Howie Good is the author of THE DEATH ROW SHUFFLE, a poetry collection forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

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