5 Prose Poems
by Howie Good, 3.24am January 10th 2021
I don’t care what the police say. I was willing to wear a wire and set Scoutmasters up. I didn’t
want theory. I wanted a mission. I worked with numbers, trying to figure out the mathematics
that went into medieval cathedrals, but I never could. I was scarecrow thin and often freezing,
and without realizing it I was moving away rather than moving toward something. I can’t be sure
if I’ll ever return. There are times I find myself staring at the back of people’s heads on the bus
with just so much gratitude.
The Bad News First
Every morning there were dumpsters full of newborn babies. Every evening there was one
brown shoe at the side of the road – with, some said, a foot still in it, tapping. I developed a
theory that we were all just the debris of a distant explosion. By then I knew no one was coming
to save me. Even the letter carrier would regularly ask for proof I was who I was before
handing over my mail. As I took my driver’s license out of my wallet, little white spiders would
fall from somewhere and melt like snowflakes in her hair.
Reign of Terror
When the reign of terror begins in earnest, a street poet with hollow cheeks and large feverish
eyes will sit at the anchor desk delivering the news in a toothless mumble and then ignore increasingly frantic signals and pleas to go to commercial break and instead recite between pulls
on a bottle a long, rambling, incendiary poem, his voice rising and falling like a medieval executioner’s double-sided axe, until all the baskets are filled with the heads of our namesakes
and the only sound that is still worth heeding is the disputatious sound of the children’s orchestra tuning up.
Letters to God
As you might expect, I get a great deal of mail. The majority comes from people pleading for
special favors. They plead for a cure for their hemorrhoids, for loans without collateral, for the
return of lost love. Others just want to know why. Why car bombings? Why famine? Why birth defects? Why, why, why. Sometimes children send bright, messy crayon drawings. In this one, I
am looking down from fluffy clouds on a stick figure family, while in that one, I am flying like a
caped superhero, the ground below inexplicably defined by orange tiger stripes. I never reply.
Never. It would ruin my reputational standing.
A Brush with Death
The streetlights came on just as I was starting off for your place. I admit I may have had one
glass of wine too many so as to prepare myself. On the walk over, I rehearsed what I was going
to say – that there’s not much in the world that is left undiscovered. I never got the chance to
say it. The angel of death, eccentrically dressed in the short blue jacket of a Parisian street
sweeper, greeted me at the door with a wide grin. I know I probably shouldn’t compare, but
Van Gogh also had eighteen teeth pulled.