POSTCARD FROM A DREAM
(1) In the dream I was trapped under a dock. My dead cousin Rhonda appeared, peering down at me between the wood planks. The water was up to my neck and still rising. “Why would you do this to us?” she scolded. (2) People are going about their lives as if nothing terrible is going on, as if corpses dressed in civilian clothes aren’t being exhumed from mass graves and discovered with gunshots to the back of their heads and their decaying hands bound behind them. (3) I’m also trying to think about what I don’t see. The worst atrocities aren’t on the news. Do you hear the rain? It is walking toward me. It is walking toward me without hurrying.
THE LAST NURSERY RHYME
Wounds heal from the inside out. The next 48 hours are likely to be crucial. I begin climbing the stairs, crawling on my hands and knees. There’s a sudden sickening stench and only then do I notice that the leaf wallpaper has already erupted in fall colors: Dragon’s Blood, Uranium Yellow, Mummy Brown. I keep climbing anyway, climb and climb, and yet the further I climb, the further away the light at the top seems to drift. Tears stream down my face, thinking of the three mice and how they became blind.
I was taught in school to never begin a sentence with “and” or “but.” But, realistically, how do you do that? And why would anyone even want to? At work your mother would eat lunch alone in the bathroom. I’m beginning to understand something about it. Nothing is ever the way they say it’ll be, and instead, a little flower between two abysses.
Buildings don’t burn up or burn down, they just burn. My own computer spied on me while I slept in. Whatever happened to the right to be lazy? Oh look, see how the leaves fall in gusts. Ah, darling, what blood and murder. Everything will shortly be turned upside down.
You can hear the war out there—machine guns and explosions. People quietly ask themselves: Who are we fighting? They are packing bags, in case the enemy comes this way. A very scared older woman confesses, “It feels like they’re already here.”
The meat wagon still hasn’t arrived for the limbless corpse discovered on the beach by an early morning jogger. Uniformed officers are stringing yellow crime scene tape to establish a perimeter around the crime scene. An overweight homicide detective, collar turned up against the cold and damp, squats with difficulty on the sand to question some seagulls that are hanging out. He’s either unaware or doesn’t care that a little way down the beach, former ocean deities, broke, mocked, abandoned, homeless, sleep among the dunes and with only the fog for a thin, tattered blanket. Grunting, the detective stands back up. He takes a moment to gaze around. Rain has begun to fall like bright stupid confetti. Jesus Christ, he thinks, there’s just so much so in sorrow.
Howie Good's latest poetry book is The Horse Were Beautiful (2022), available from Grey Book Press.