The Sound of Guns by Howie Good

I heard him load a gun. And then I saw his gun was black and his jacket was black.  “So, how does the story end?” my daughter asks me. To all these questions, I could answer yes. I begin explaining the dust of this planet, the pre-digital clouds. Either a bomb was planted or someone blew himself up. There’s flesh and blood everywhere. “I thought everyone would run past me and save themselves,” I say. It’s a horrible way to search. It’s like you’ve lost your car keys at night in your backyard and you’re looking for them through a toilet paper roll with a flashlight. I’m going to leave flowers at the place where it happened. That place could actually be in your head. It’s quiet. Like flies stuck against the glass.

*

The gun is loaded and ready. Just shoot the shark in the head.  I can smell the fires. It’s not often you hear the blast of explosives in a place where children are sleeping. I would be a lot less afraid of it if I just knew what it was called. The scariest possibilities are the ones that stop right behind your heart. They say things are going to get better, and then we can forget that men are beasts, and beasts are everywhere. The river might even become peaceful, a watercolor but with sound. A clarinet.

*

Don’t mess with women who are into gore. They’re feeling the pain. They’re imagining the pain of the bullets hitting them. She’s got her boyfriend’s entrails in her backpack. It’s too awful here. Yesterday she was crying in the night because of this place. We studied in the daytime and listened to bombs in the night. We heard something that sounded like rocks being unloaded from a dump truck. People were shouting, “Run, run!” I stepped out to take a look, and I saw one of the nearby houses coming our way amid a cloud of smoke. Again, they strapped me to the jeep and made the rounds of the villages. I looked just like someone whose insides were cracking open. When it’s evening, I see them in my thoughts, coming again to take me away.

Howie Good
Howie Good is the recipient of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry for his latest collection, Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements.
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