Postcard from America
The smells of old cooking fires cling to their clothes and hair. I’ve been warned not to look too closely at their faces. “Let us in,” they beg. They swear for the ten thousandth time that they’re deserving. We like to think we’re like peace-loving Switzerland, just without all those cows and Alps, but after dark, it’s a whole other thing. Gates are locked. Wayward bombs fall from the sky on hapless civilians. Babies get sent to prison. This will continue. This will be allowed to happen again. Even the dog remains asleep despite the unnerving whine of sullen engines.
The moon will catch fire, flames rage in every window. That’s why I go to the gym three times a week – I want to be alive to see it. We’re all under edict. We’re all illegals. We’re all dancing in ballet shoes made from bubble wrap and tape.
War Toys (with apologies to Svetlana Alexievich)
Fat black birds cry in frightened voices A man in a charred shirt is being led down the street. He’s barefoot, his hands bound with wire. Later, you’ll see him hanging from a tall tree next to the municipal building. The conquerors will rename the land however they choose.
Freud caught sight of a nasty old man on the train, only to realize it was his own reflection. His carryall bag on the overhead rack contained an entire set of ant dreams preserved in amber. Informers lurked everywhere, but, after the train pulled in, he eluded them by frequently changing facial expressions. Later, he forgot the word “cremated” and had to shout to his wife through his study door, “What’s it called – incinerating the body?” From the window he had a view of the public park, including a tree whose firm, round fruit the children liked to pretend were bombs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Howie Good is the author of three recent collections, I’m Not a Robot from Tolsun Books, The Titanic Sails at Dawn from Alien Buddha Press, and What It Is and How to Use It from Grey Book Press. He co-edits Unbroken and UnLost journals.