p o e t r y
What It Is and How to Use It
My father attempted to kill himself three times. He once, you know, the electric socket. The lights went out because of the short. He also tried hanging himself, and it’s just lucky the nail was loose. I was about eight or nine. There wasn’t a single day I didn’t come home shaking.
I was out walking the dog last night when I heard a boom. Everywhere I looked I saw an overdose of light. My first thought was, I hope nobody’s child is dead. That doesn’t it mean it won’t happen again. At any given moment, shanghaied sailors are emptying buckets – buckets and buckets – of wet guts over the side for the scavenger birds that follow.
The face becomes a landscape. What’s more interesting than the face? So much to see in the face, not only a maze of barbed wire and the stains left by Zyklon B, but also tombstones being toppled over or spray-painted with swastikas, my eyes, meanwhile, burning from the exertion required to hold back tears.
A short, stocky woman with the blunt features of an Eastern European peasant appears in the doorway, drying her hands on her apron. It’s my mother but it doesn’t look like my mother. She says that’s because memories occur personally to each of us. And so I may only think I remember birds cawing and the creep of shadows across the sky and smiling teenage boys raising their arms in the Nazi salute for the photographer. Doesn’t mean it’s not important. On a scale of 1-10, the pain is a 5, maybe a 6.
Howie Good co-edits the journals UnLost and Unbroken with Dale Wisely.