The Really Bad Stuff by Howie Good

The whole night it was slam, bang, boom. It bubbled up from the doors, seeped in from the windows. You just looked around and saw things were totally gone. It’s like a tornado went in and swept everything up. I was shocked. I didn’t think it would happen. They told us to keep inside, to be ready for anything. It’s had me spooked for years. Now we’re also worried about our houses blowing up. You know how they say you hear the train noise? I heard it.


I’m really having a hard time understanding today right now. Dave put a shotgun to his chest so we could study his brain. I didn’t like him staring at me. He often talked to himself. Now we’re kind of like: How do we know if he was telling the truth or not? I’m not a big fan of dialogue. What I fill it with will only be known when it comes spilling out. People are left wondering if it’s going to be a disaster. There will be others out there who will make connections we haven’t seen. To be honest, we just cook bacon and eggs. But sometimes you need bacon and eggs.


I’ve seen the really bad stuff on television. But actually experience it? No. Never. I’m not used to this. What might make sense in one place might not in another. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Everything is thrown everywhere. We don’t have anything to stop it. I just feel so sad and empty. At one point I couldn’t see for about five minutes. You press a button, an alarm goes off. A lot of laughter, crying, yelling, tears. They’re laughing at us, every one of us. I don’t care what they do as long as fire doesn’t start coming out the windows.


There’s a lot of screaming and praying to Jesus. I guess I’m confused about why this scene. I come and I go and I come and I go. It all depends on the path. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know where we’re going to sleep tonight. I just know it’s totally different from before, when you could get killed for a pair of sneakers. Some people are trembling. I’m composing, if not music, sounds like waves on the beach or perhaps wind in the forest. Do you realize how dangerous that is? I dream of standing ovations.


It’s important to test during the day whether or not you’re dreaming. I had a dream and then I turned on the lights and discovered that I had blood all over me. I don’t ever want to forget the shock of that discovery. We’re recreating it with historical obsession and mesmerizing detail. The school there is full of dead bodies. First thing Monday morning, I want to find out why. Anything can happen: I take more medicine than I should; there’s a bloody knife on the bed; they burn the man to the ground.


Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize for Poetry from Thoughtcrime Press. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.


Photo by Tony Webster. Minneapolis Police Department squad cars stand by as City crews demolish and discard demonstrators’ belongings early in the morning on December 3, 2015, following 18 days of protests and occupation, with calls for Justice for Jamar Clark, shot by a Minneapolis Police Officer on November 15, 2015.–Wikimedia Commons

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