4 Prose Poems

Truth Is the God of Last Resort

As I remember the story from my Hebrew school days, an angel with eyes all over its head and wings touched a burning coal to the lips of Isaiah the Prophet. But what for? I ask myself now. Was it to provide the fire of inspiration or a trigger warning? Only a foul mouth can speak the foul truth – Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, Mary Jane Kelly, the lost names of the streetwalkers whose throats were cut and bodies mutilated by Jack the Ripper.

Saturday Matinee 

The movie was called To Hell and Back. He played himself, Pvt. Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II. Up on the screen, he single-handedly stormed blockhouses and machine-gun nests while lesser men cringed in foxholes or got hit by bullets and crumpled. I was maybe 9 when I saw the movie. Sixty years later, I somehow remember it was in black and white, and that he was slight and stammering and had a small, boyish face. I sat there watching as though it weren’t a sort of piped-in hallucination, but a keyhole through which one could see everything.

Drone Pilots Do It Remotely

My father tried to kill himself three times – well, four if you count the time he fell asleep smoking in bed and woke up with the mattress on fire. I remember because I had just been told by someone who supposedly knew to never write poems about writing poetry. It’s a lot different now. Now there aren’t even definite prohibitions against selling human skulls on Instagram, Facebook, or Etsy. Instead, the armed drone that blows up the terrorist hideout in Kabul also blows up a houseful of children.

Sick, Sick, Sick

It’s as though under my skin I have swarms of voracious insects with razor-sharp teeth biting, scraping, whittling my bones. People who have seen me gasp in pain when I stand up sometimes suggest I try heat or ice or some special cream. I nod just to be polite. What is broken in me can’t ever be fixed; it can only be calibrated. At the edge of my vision lurks a hooded figure whose face is set in a luminous grin.

Howie Good

3 Questions for Howie

What was your process for creating this work?

The same process I follow for most everything I write: what starts out as a jumble of half-completed sentences and ideas slowly gets revised into something coherent in tone and theme.

What is the significance of the form/genre you chose for this work?

I consider these pieces prose poems. It's a form that has a marginal status in poetry circles. But, then, so do I.

What is the significance of this work to you?

I'm trying to put the world back together by putting one meaningful word after the other.

Howie Good is the author of Famous Long Ago, a forthcoming prose poetry collection from Laughing Ronin Press.

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