Buzzword by Howie Good


The committee in charge of such things must have voted overnight, for when the sun came through the window in the morning, “iconic” was the newest buzzword. Anyone who could read was now pretty much guaranteed to encounter “iconic” this and “iconic” that in print or online. A frozen daquiri would be dubbed the “iconic summer drink,” Monopoly the “iconic board game,” 7-Eleven the “iconic convenience store.” Meanwhile, more young people were adding .com to their names. They yearned to escape emotional strife, acquire a certain aloofness, the equanimity of machines. Or that may have been in a movie I saw. I don’t know, I can’t remember, but despite the early hour and our advanced age, we were exchanging long, slow, sticky kisses as if just prior to launch we had shared an iconic Eggo waffle in warm syrup in bed.


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

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.

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel by Howie Good

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel

After 30 minutes of Christmas music, the high school choir broke into the Hanukkah song “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” at the holiday concert. The person seated beside me began to complain under her breath. Jesus Fucking Christ! I thought. I examined her out of the corner of my eye. She wasn’t an obvious Nazi. Somewhere in her fifties, she was trying hard to look younger, a frosted blonde with the sharp features of the obsessive dieter. I didn’t say anything, though I might have let out a sigh. The song changed to something Christmassy. I focused on my daughter up on stage. She was heedlessly singing, her face all alight.


Howie Good’s latest poetry books are The Horse Were Beautiful, available from Grey Book Press, and Swimming in Oblivion: New and Selected Poems from Redhawk Publications.

Two Prose Poems by Howie Good

The Visitation

I heard a massive thump. Alarmed, I went to the sliding glass door and looked out, expecting to see a seagull lying there dead after crashing into the glass. Instead, a juvenile sand shark was flailing on the back deck. I couldn’t have been more astonished if I’d been visited by an angel clothed in light or a neighbor wearing no clothes at all. The shark was just a foot long and battleship gray. As it thrashed about, I called to my wife, “Barbara, quick, bring a bucket!” I half-filled the bucket from the hose. Then Barbara, using a gardening trowel, managed to drop the shark into the bucket. This is the world. Whatever the hour, there’s always a rendezvous going on.


Murderers on Holiday

I was born with holes in me. “These things happen,” the doctor told my mom with a resigned smile. I can’t visualize the love of our fellow man that the Bible preaches with the detail that I can baseball on the radio. If there were actually angels, would they fly in a V-formation like geese, you think? Crows can hold a grudge for a year or more against someone who has mistreated them. No one should feel particularly safe. I love cats, but even a cat, when it’s starving, could eat a person.


Howie Good’s latest poetry collection, THE HORSES WERE BEAUTIFUL, is forthcoming from Grey Book Press.

Two Poems by Howie Good

My Dark Ages

Black clouds mass over a rotting city. The police patrolling in battlefield gear eyeball you. Under the closeness of their scrutiny, you can feel your face assume a guilty expression. Later you’ll complain to me about it. “Oh yeah?” I’ll say. “Try going through life as a Howard.”


Christ is murdered over and over, a crime gorgeously lit in stained glass. Do we know what we look like? Not really. The voice of the turtle is too faint for human ears.


This is the one road that goes everywhere. Some days I walk it to think, some days to actually get someplace. I’ve been thinking about the hateful looks my father would give me growing up. “What are you, stupid?” he would hiss. It’s strange how much darkness a person can absorb and still function. Van Gogh, the morning before his suicide, painted a garden scene full of sun and life.


Failed Haiku

Blank page on my laptop
A tree still waiting for leaves

A hazy childhood memory
The dense, swirling fog
in which a killer might lurk

Passing clouds
cast fugitive shadows
over a hayfield
Lines for a poem
that vanish on waking

Bright red patches
on the wings of blackbirds
Christ’s wounds

Your inner child
A figure pursued across the ice


Howie Good is the author most recently of the poetry collection Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing).