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by Howie Good


There’s a screaming woman with blood on her hands. She’s begging me for help. But, first, I must identify the celebrity in a T-shirt that says “Dear God, Fuck You.” My answer gets entered with all the others into a computer for a chance to win one of a thousand prizes. And then? And then the neighbors, yellow-faced with fear, will stand on the sidewalk in whispering groups uselessly speculating as to what’s about to happen. I have a suspicion that a box containing hair, birds, and constellations has been left during the night where I must hunt to find it.


I don’t say anything about being woken up by the shout of a bird flying away over the bruised-looking plain. Birds didn’t arrive on the planet going “Fuck you” to everyone. Now, though, there’s never enough space between earth and sky. I’m often asked, “What happened to your ear?” I just say, “Steely Dan on the headphones.”


There was only grass. I couldn’t pass it through my throat. Yet I forced myself to swallow in front of the children so they would accept it as food. I start feeling anxious whenever I remember those days. It was a time for nothing much — one child teasing another, twins committing suicide together, a man drinking in the woods. We dialed F-U-C-K-Y-O-U and L-O-V-E-Y-O-U to see what would happen. Someone knocked at the door and gave us his ear in a folded piece of paper, saying, “Take it, it will be useful.”

Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.