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Howie Good

Another Word for Dystopia

They kicked in the door. Your wife screamed. A few of them were wearing white lab coats as if they were doctors. The world was behaving in ways you wouldn’t have believed possible just a short while ago. With a “doctor” on each side, and the people in neighboring apartments covertly watching, you were hustled down the stairs and across the street and into an ambulance. To this day, no one will talk about what might have become of you. Everything is either too hot or too cold; nothing is soft. Prepubescent girls have dreams eight feet high and made of steel.



Mad Love

You’re the equivalent in French to “a crime gorgeously lit by big arched windows” and why street level drug dealers are now conniving to work their way up to roof level. Soon towns and even mid-sized cities are going to be petitioning to be renamed for you. A headline says Johnny Depp Is Radioactive, but how many people besides you know an isotope when they see one or that puddles are the autographs of rain? If you were a month, you’d be a torrential August. There are rose-choked paths winding through you where day feels like night and the rain that shakes the petals loose shakes me.



Myths of the Near Future

Black-winged angels circle overhead like birds of prey. The last surviving shul is being converted to use as a tool shed. Out front a noose has been looped around the neck of a statue of Anne Frank. We’re approaching the hour when torturers report in for the night shift. Meanwhile, some two thousand women and girls rally in the park against menstruation despite the ashes of burning rivers whirling down in gusts. Young soldiers accompanied by snarling German shepherds patrol the perimeter of the crowd. The soldiers are forbidden on pain of death to make friends with the dogs.



Broken Highway

Forget God and religion, what the skinny Buddha is called. Follow the broken highway, and when you do, the only witness against you will be the flamboyant bird of the desert. You’ll pass through red nights and long white days and have a guarantee of a chance to win one of 1,000 prizes – everything from a string of fairy lights to an ear in a folded piece of paper on which someone has printed, “Take it, it will be useful.” Even so, your identity will remain a secret, as there’s no word yet in English for a parent who’s lost a child.


Howie Good's latest full-length poetry collection, Gun Metal Sky, is due in early 2021 from Thirty West.

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