Howard Good


It’s music written for prodigious instruments
not yet invented, and which the violinists

rehearse even so, but without the conductor,
who keeps to his dressing room beneath the stage,

searching the phone book for the address
of the Commissariat of Devastated Regions.

All week long, surly drunks have handed out flyers
on the corner announcing tonight’s performance,

rumored to feature nightmares that were chained
in the basement for years and fed on table scraps.

Now, as the orchestra tunes up, animal-like grunts
pour into the street from the high, dark windows

of the concert hall, and the few people passing
at this late hour, their eyes on the ground, quicken

their steps toward home.


We were crawling on our bellies
for the shelter of the pine trees.
I saw a woman I knew, a neighbor,

stand up and shout into the sky,
"You bastards, there are
innocent people down here."

A plane dove toward her,
and I could see the pilot, his face.
I’ll never forget his horrible goggles.

Later, as we were returning from the woods,
an old farmer came out to the field
and poked her in the side with his shoe.


Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of six poetry chapbooks, most recently Tomorrowland (2008) from Achilles Chapbooks. He has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for the Best of the Net anthology.

(author retains copyright)