Death or Glory
Outside my door, there’s a ruckus, several million maniacs and imbeciles, in the fragrant company of feral dogs, finding something, a sort of darker blue, like the butt bruises of roller derby queens after a match, and if you say yes, yes, you’re the good guys, and if you say no, no, you’re the bad guys, held at gunpoint and given three days to get ready for death or glory, and just when it seems science can’t help, older women show up at noon with their white hair and canes and wheelchairs and walkers, angry that this is happening again.
The Anxiety of Influence
A banner stretching across the building’s exterior said, What’s Shakin’. You entered through a glass door, walked down a long, dim hallway and up a set of stairs into an area with large windows. The view was constantly changing, and you weren’t always sure what you were looking at or how it was happening. Jack Kerouac berated you for your perceived lack of cool. William Burroughs wouldn’t remove his hat. If you were going to be somewhere, this maybe wasn’t the best place. Many years would pass before anyone would realize that among the 20 most common passwords is “trustno1.”
Banquet of Vultures
A monk in a monastery in the Northeast Kingdom maintains the lotus position for nine straight hours, how long it takes him to count all the ways there are to kill a person. Every day about 200,000 people die, so many that the leaves of an oak that once served as the hanging tree talk among themselves, muttering things like “Here’s my hat. Go away.” This could be why the seasons now seem to come and go in no particular order. Meanwhile, gunmen from around the world have organized a banquet of vultures. It’s only gravity that keeps us there.
My zayde kept begging me not to leave him there. I tried to reassure him, told him there wasn’t always that great a difference between a funeral and a carnival. Even as I spoke, crows were gathering on the headstones, just a few at first, then maybe a couple of dozen. Child, child, the crows cried, you can’t kill what’s already dead. It got me wondering if sunshine was an overrated virtue. I couldn’t decide one way or the other. Since then, where my dog is, that’s where home is, and that’s not bad, that’s about as good as anything.
“By three things is the world sustained,” the rabbi said. Then he asked me, in his morbidly conscientious way, to name at least two that laid end to end would stretch from London to Paris, about 300 miles. While I was working out how to respond, the congregation started to yell, “No! No!” as if there needed to be some sort of machine that could detect all things with value that had been taken by the water. It’s why now when my children hear sounds at night, they think the rain is coming back, and even I’m scared to sleep.
Howie Good is the author of three recent collections, I’m Not a Robot from Tolsun Books, A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel from Analog Submission Press, and The Titanic Sails at Dawn from Alien Buddha Press.