The Mysterious Mr. Good

Maybe I’ll never meet Howard Good. He teaches journalism at SUNY New Paltz and writes poetry in a whirlwind that has produced twenty chapbooks plus several full length collections. Yet in all my travels to local poetry events I’ve never met the man. Last October, I did come close. I was scheduled to appear after him at a New Paltz Celebration of the Arts marathon in a historic stone church off Huguenot Street. (Standing in that austere wooden pulpit that turreted over the tall pews, I should have delivered a sermon, not my zombie poems.) Alas, I learned that on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in leaf pepping season, New Paltz has something I didn’t know existed upstate: a traffic jam. It started well before the Thruway exit toll booth and didn’t end until I was forty minutes late. By then, Howie Good was gone. But I did buy his book, Lovesick, and raced through it with gritty glee. There are elements of noire, of surrealism, of the Poet Everyguy caught up in the daily craziness—yet the casualness belies a real talent for delivering breathtaking surprises in just a few lines. Here’s one:

In Excelsis Gloria

my daughter thirteen comes home
from school her dark eyes darker
than usual as if her irises had crystallized
because the chorus has been practicing
singing that song in excelsis gloria
for the winter concert she says no way
can she it weirds her out to call jesus
lord savior the singing teacher
when she told him shook his head
deal with it he said and there it is
like the dead bird xylophone our cat
leaves by the front door as a gift
oddly without a mark of violence
on it or any blood just small enough
to fit into my pocket and carry away
if i wish a soft weight a terrible reminder
a secret love note scribbled in haste

This entry was posted in Poems and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.