This week we have two poems by Howie Good, varied in content, but similar in the understated, sinister style in which they are delivered. He forces the audience to look between and beyond the words to understand the full picture illustrated by its author.
Life grew heavy with the weight of names. You were drunk all the time. Sunshine, you said, looking up from your whiskey, is an overrated virtue. It was fashionable to die young and be pessimistic. One day for entertainment, you visited the mental hospital. You seemed to smile while observing patients writhing in straitjackets and howling, their sex hard to guess. By the middle of the afternoon, you had started back for home, where the chaos was more familiar and bulldozers pushed bodies like dirt. The road to the station was slow going, barely a road at all, but a long and depressing spell of rain and, when night came, a hangman’s black hood.
Cold War Babies
I woke up at three in morning from a dream where I was standing on a white sand beach. In the dream I watched a seagull attack a head that had washed ashore. I was the only one paying any attention to the gull. Everyone else was either sunbathing or playing in the waves. That was the kind of world it was. I felt angry at myself because I couldn’t remember something. It may have been the term “Cold War babies.” For some reason it seemed important to remember what the term was. The seagull continued to jab at the head, which now had no eyes. When I woke up, I realized that we hadn’t seen the sun in days.
The poems force us to assess not only what the poems ‘mean’, but how we see and organise the ever-flowing disparate images that surround us. When it is done as well as it is here, it has the greatest assets of modern poetry – easily accessible, but challenging to penetrate fully.
Keep reading each week for more interesting and impeccable pieces of work.