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inspired remnants Howie Good

The Red Ceilings Press

MMXI [rcp 29]

inspired remnants Howie Good

A Walk on the Moon 1 Birds had been falling from the sky all day. I leaned out the window. The street churned with fires and sirens. Pickpockets moved anxiously among the crowd. Something bundled like a baby lay under a rose bush. I didn’t see it until later, as I was distracted by a pair of dancing feet.

2 Everything’s lost! the messenger cried. Chairs and wine glasses, humble cherished objects, flew in great circles over our heads. We let words chose their own meanings. Awake in her little bed, the young daughter of friends listened to a querulous piece of chalk scratching all night on the blackboard.

3 The streets were decked out with flags and banners for some unspecified celebration. She smiled when I told her. Only I would have noticed the poignant tilt of her head. The sky was an empty gray glove. Winos whispered directions. Holding hands, we stopped to watch a road crew reaffix the fallen leaves to branches.

4 To get red, you need dust and haze. Pollution makes the sky so beautiful. Sparks showered down on us.

5 It was the anniversary of the disappearance of wild birds. A government clerk sat in a cafĂŠ eating a macaroon. He would lower his eyes whenever a woman or transport passed. One war was always ending, another always beginning.

6 A song whose name I couldn’t remember was stuck in my head. Security cameras guarded the busy parking lot of a dream. Bad things were happening to gray seals. Because I wished to be discussed, I wore an oversized scarf just like the poets.

7 The morning light was all pale yellows and pinks. We heard a rumor that Jesus would return by submarine. I took pills to help me fall asleep. She took pills to help her stay awake.

8 Who are you? an old woman asked the mirror. The young scholar with the patchy beard thought he knew the answer – a German word that means the pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.

9 She sat with legs apart. As a flower, she would have been a tulip, with decorous hints of pubic hair. The dog scratched itself under the table. We talked for a while about various kinds of feathers. The slit in her flesh revealed a red interior, just a tiny candle flame.

10 Monday no longer followed Sunday. Everything was the enemy. Everything! I pounded at the door of the century. She had the key to the door in her hand. Trees began to shake, bringing acrobats and spectacular displays of electricity.

11 Soon the gods didn’t mind acting like criminals. We blamed a sick imagination. Women dutifully took the bus to visit the graves of loved ones. Their perfume and hats burned bright red.

12 I discovered my thoughts in the act of thinking them. Deaths outnumbered births. Is it always like this? a puzzled stranger asked. I wondered what African soothsayers would say.

Addendum: Blue Nude 1 The gypsy accompanying us on the violin played with such passion that he would weep as he executed certain passages. Our blood escaped through every pore. I was the sea, and you were an aborted voyage to India, a ghostlike blue seated in front of a blank mirror.

2 Above the bar, a big TV was playing without sound. You kept glancing up at the screen. I followed your empty gaze. A talk-show host, smiling with all his teeth, was shaking hands with a confessed criminal. Back then, I still cared about the news. You worked by day, I worked by night, in a state of great agitation. It was one of the first things we did after the war. I’m not sure it’s finished. The later the hour, the louder the covered trucks rumble through the streets. I half-close my eyes in order to see only sky.

3 It was hard to make sense of what was happening. An official-sounding voice kept repeating, Watch your step. In one corner a man was strangling a woman. They fell like two mountain climbers tied together. I found a bench overlooking the cemetery. A plaque in the ground described how you had split open like a carcass in a butcher’s shop, all in an effort to achieve the evocation of light through the color black. Few remember it otherwise. A statue made of nothingness blinked in the sunlight.

Howie Good Is a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the full-length poetry collections Lovesick (Press Americana, 2009), Heart With a Dirty Windshield (BeWrite Books, 2010), and Everything Reminds Me of Me (Desperanto, 2011), as well as 29 print and digital poetry chapbooks. He has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net and Web anthologies. He is co-editor of the online nonfiction journal Left Hand Waving, and co-founder and -editor (with Dale Wisely) of the digital chapbook publisher White Knuckle Press,

The Red Ceilings Press

MMXI [rcp 29] www.redceilings.

inspired remnants  

by Howie Good