Three Prose Poems by Howie Good

The Origins of Classic Nursery Rhymes

I didn’t grow up surrounded by art and culture. There were newspapers scattered around the house but few books on the shelves or paintings on the walls. One day I sat drawing in my room – I must have been 12 or 13 years old, just starting to figure shit out – when my mom stuck her head in. She watched me for a moment, then she said, “Why are you wasting paper?” I have had kind of a bad feeling ever since, like the farmer’s wife is still back there in the kitchen torturing three blind helpless mice with a knife.



Once or twice the angel of death has thrust his face perilously close to mine. I can still smell his lurid breath, in fact, when the wind blows across green scummy water. Although it seems longer ago, it was only last year that he climbed into bed and cuddled with you. The survivors cope as best they can. One walks all around the car and checks under it for signs of tampering before getting in. And so I ask him, Whatever happened to the right to be lazy? The tattered white clouds scattered above might be fistfuls of hair a furiously grieving God has torn from his beard.


Old Couple

The young people watch us with a look of pain in their eyes, maybe sometimes a look of pity. They watch uneasily as we take up residence in the lost jungle ruins of disposable culture. I share their skepticism of the long-term significance of greased-back hair and a shiny gold suit. Extinction beckons. The next life cycle is likely to be crucial. And then what? If love is an evolutionary dead end, it’s still your favorite dinosaur, the spiky, armor-plated one with the murderous clublike tail.


Howie Good’s newest poetry collection is Heart-Shape Hole (Laughing Ronin Press), which also includes examples of his handmade collages.

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