THE 'P' IN PARANOIA
Boatsful of refugees set out for the land of childhood obesity. The next morning I could feel it, the police lying in wait, hoping I would dare to park more than 12 inches from the curb. I was the chief suspect on the basis of a torn belt loop and my father’s passing resemblance to Joseph Stalin, who, as you probably know, put the “p” in paranoia. And did I mention there was a dog with an American flag bandana knotted around its neck? I asked if it was ex-military. It replied with a rueful shake of the head.
THE STARFISH WAS THE ONE WORRY
Machiavelli didn’t say, “Lick the tire of my bicycle,” but it’s what he meant. That and clouds, Florida, and bra. The idea is stored in fragmentary and elliptical phrases alongside salt and ash, an area of the brain that looks suspiciously like Detroit, only with flaming riderless bicycles passing on the street. Jesus Christ, how things change. I wish I was still in bed with someone’s unsuitable mother, electricity being pushed around inside our bodies. I would ask why the tattoo of a starfish on the back of her calf. And just like that, drips and splats would light up as if I had won a trophy for bowling 200!
STILL LIFE WITH FIREARMS
I should have kept it, brought it inside, put it where I would see it every day, on the desk or on top of the dresser, a chunk of jawbone with sharp yellow teeth that I found in the woods and, for a long moment, weighed in my hand before tossing away. Years later, I stand at the window and count the wild turkeys – 1-2-3-4-5 – pecking for acorns in the yard. The questions concerning the gun disguised as a cell phone don’t concern them. I myself am trying to guess what I am likely to be, unintended victim or stray bullet.
THE PERFECT SELFIE
I’m getting older. I want clear answers. I’m beginning to dread women with tongue piercings, shirtless men with nunchucks. Many of them have even taken selfies at the gas chamber in Auschwitz. Kim has laid down four rules for the perfect selfie: “Hold your phone high; know your angle; know your lighting; and no duckface!” Sure, it’s stupid, but so is a guided tree tour. Things made of wood, things that are heavy, things having four legs, all are famous. Take the word “table,” and if not table, the hole left by the World Trade Center.
Copyright © Howie Good 2016
Howie Good is the author of Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry.