четвер, 16 листопада 2017 р.

Howie Good - 4 prose poems

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz,  is the author of The Loser's Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize from Thoughtcrime Press, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry. 

***1. Standard Deviation

I was only 15, running an errand for my parents when two men in uniform grabbed me by the arms and dragged me away. “What is wrong with you?” I asked them, and their answer was to hit me with a helmet in the face. It turned from a beautiful place into a hell. People managed to rescue the rabbits and goats before the fire took hold. I’m not interested in the phenomenon of false memories, I’m interested in now. A tall guy, taller than me, is carrying a giant thing, a very strange-looking thing with antennas coming off it. The injured scream out, “I need some help, I need some help.” My hair smells like the smoke of burning Confederate flags. I just keep smiling. It makes you cry to walk up the stairs to see that.

***2. A Short History of Office Politics

I was inside with seven girls, and we were starving. We didn't know the war had ended. A soldier came in and told us to run. His turban wasn’t on his head. His clothes were torn. I saw shreds of flesh dropping from his back. The whole city was burning. Staff had been evacuated amid rumors that a tiger was on the loose. Every six months or so you'll see something like that, where someone has been shot in the head with an arrow, or falls off a ladder and lands on a piece of rebar. It just adds to the chaos. Frankly, I’ve been trying not to die. When I come to work in the morning, the first thing I do is recite some lines of verse. Then I weep, and then I go to my office.

***3. Life Imitates TV

I heard the cries of “Attack! Attack!” You could feel the ground shake. “Oh shit!” someone said. “This is it.” The whole area was bright. I was feeling that boom till the morning. They arrived at night. We said hello and shook hands with them. I wasn’t thinking of anything. I just did it. Hence the bad weather, the hunger, the kids dying in the countryside. Every time we thought we had shut the siren off, it sounded again. We were all in shock and those who could lie on the floor did so. The rest find mass graves. They witness executions. I mean that's warfare – it's clear and simple, and it's in HDTV. I have explained this time and time again, but you won’t listen. And now that room is on fire. If I turn there, it's there – it's everywhere.

***4. Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day

We’re living in a preposterous age. Are we going to have to pay a ransom to get out? We’re all being extra careful. You may be in such a hurry that you don’t heed the clear warning. Go walk around the plaza. The monsters were there before the superheroes. They shaved their beards to look like us. Let’s stop with the flowery euphemisms. If you look down the alley, you’ll see all kinds of things: people dumping trash, and pissing, and shooting up, and dealing drugs. A man has a blanket over his head. Some sturdy guys back there are helping hold him down. On its face, it’s extremely suspicious. When I first saw it, I had this huge anxious feeling and broke down in tears. Nothing is safe anymore. Cover your Webcam with tape. You aren’t invisible.

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