Four Poems by Howie Good

From the series HEARTLESS

Friends forget my birthday. Forget they’re friends.
Betray confidences without giving their names.

Change their names without telling me.
Slice the heads off birds.

Leave headless birds on the doorstep.
And when I’m near,

drop their voices and whisper into the phone.

My heart eats a hole in itself
just big enough to escape through.

It’s a law no one follows.
Even so, they pull me from the line

and quote Kant’s Categorical Imperative
and then laugh at my discomfiture.

One of them looks something like my older brother,
the same brown eyes and ironic manner.

“Just tell what happened in the order it happened,”
my heart blandly advises.

I would, but all I can recall at this distance
is a car honking for me to come out

and the moon being lynched from a lamppost
and not enough light.

Her heart moves in
with my heart.

At dinner she stares down
without appetite at the roses

clotting on the plate.
I ask how her day was.

She shrugs – her heart
doesn’t consider

languishment and pain
to be subjects

for dinner conversation.
But sometimes it wonders

just what took place
before it got here

that night trembles
under the table,

waiting for scraps.

I had bad teeth in the dream,
just as in real life, but in the dream

I had the long, droopy moustache
of a gunfighter to disguise it.

I walked so slowly up the tree-
lined street I appeared lost.

People had stopped mowing their lawns
or playing with their dogs to watch me.

A few even pointed.
Perhaps they were wondering like me

what was in the grocery bag I was carrying
that the bottom had turned a greasy black,

my heart or someone else’s.

6 Responses to “Four Poems by Howie Good”

  1. Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University
    of New York at New Paltz, is the author of eight poetry
    chapbooks, including Police and Questions from Right Hand
    Pointing (2008), Tomorrowland (2008) from Achilles
    Chapbooks, The Torturer’s Horse (2009) from Recycled Karma
    Press, and Love Is a UFO (2009) from Pudding House.

  2. 1. Great story , and so powerful , and with some disappointment . Thanks I enjoyed reading it >>M

  3. “My heart eats a hole in itself
    just big enough to escape through.”

    Fantastic imagery filled with just the right amount of angst.

  4. the moon being lynched from a lamppost
    and not enough light.

    I loved that in particular, but all of these were wonderful…really.

  5. Wow, just wow, an another thing – this poem is utterly fantastic.

    It’ s all there, love (those in, and those out) and movement, but not fast movement – time moves in this poem at its own pace – with its own darkness and light.

    …a very good read…

    So good it surprised me, which ain’t easy.


  6. thanks to all for the kind, kind words.

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