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Shake Before Use

Howie Good

Despite cancer and twice daily mouthfuls of various pain pills, I’ve already lived longer than you or anyone else expected, but as if in punishment, I suffer frequent traumatic visits from revenge-minded angels, a bunch of vicious motherfuckers, Lou Reed lookalikes in black leather jackets and wraparound shades who treat me like a magnificent irrelevance, a supernumerary, a false witness, calling bullshit on the pained sounds I make, the clatter of wooden wheels over human bones, when they’re not mocking my superficial knowledge of street life or testing the strength in my arms and legs while neighbors fall from roofs and ladders and dogs lap up the blood.


Howie Good

“Is this you?” the dark lady from the Islands asks, showing me my name printed in all capitals on a little stick-on label. I am who I am. She applies the label to a tube of my blood. An elaborate tattoo of apparent Polynesian design covers the back of her right hand. When a sailor in the Age of Sail died at sea, he was sewn in his hammock along with a cannonball and committed to the deep. Down in the darkness of the cargo hold, the cattle and sheep were oblivious as ever. Is this you? I’m the only crew on a worm-eaten wooden ship whose captain, habitually drunk on potent wine, has entrusted our destination to the whimsies of the wind.

Howie's latest book is Frowny Face, a mix of his prose poems and handmade collages from Redhawk Publications. He co-edits the online journal UnLost, dedicated to found poetry.
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