SHEOL 1 I walk out without you into the greasy smoke of evening. After thirteen days in bed, there’s so much still to suffer that lifting your face for a goodbye kiss feels like an interruption. 2 You board an empty train in the cold and dark and travel to a country where you’re the only inhabitant. 3 Mother died on Wednesday. I look up. Row upon row of windows rise out of sight, the same half-eaten face in each one. Mine. 4 I’m dressed in a French-cut suit the color of a cloudy day. A cadaver dog approaches, hesitant and mannerly. There’s no effective pill. There never was. 5 A kitchen chair sits empty out under an enormous chestnut tree whose right hand has lost its cunning.
THE GOLDEN AGE 1 Everyone’s head was full of words and stories, maps of sorts, and when they shut their eyes, they saw a white summer dress dashed with blood. People were rarely lonely. If they killed, it was for the same reasons that bridges sometimes fail. 2 Dot-dot-dash in Morse code means “u.” A man jammed a fistful into his mouth. He had climbed the iron staircase toward a rumor of angels, what they call Rembrandt Lighting. Somewhere a heart was powering down. A horse-drawn ambulance eventually shambled into view. The sky by then was small and vague. 3 The weather inside isn’t that good either, soft, gray flakes, like the warm ashes of clouds. I’m getting ready to go to the other room. If you want something to happen, act like you don’t and then maybe it will. 4 Is it still winter there where you are? Do you have a dancing monkey to help you get through it? Here everything calls out to everything else. No one regrets that the first paint was probably animal blood. Only the birds seem kind of glum, black-capped chickadees with pebbles for eyes.
Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the new poetry collection, Dreaming in Red, from Right Hand Pointing. All proceeds from the sale of the book go to a crisis center, which you can read about here: https://sites.google.com/site/rhplanding/howie-good-dreaming-in-red. He is also the author of numerous chapbooks, including most recently The Devil’s Fuzzy Slippers from Flutter Press.