The Patron Saint of Useless Causes
Nobody gets spared. Nobody gets accustomed to pain, the sorrowful march led by the flamboyant bird of the desert. I have started feeling anxious now that the honey bee is endangered. The Watusi longhorn, the cattle of kings, is already extinct. I am afraid of the blankness when I am in an open space. Hey Mollie, I’ve tried to tell you, but you never listen, our blubbering tongues, things left unsaid, like strikeouts on a typewriter. Your patron saint won’t intervene. At the museum I saw on display the revolver he used to kill himself.
The Queen has been here, did you know that? Godfather fans, apparently, would also rather ‘do the tying’ than ‘be tied up’. Medics rushed by with a man on a stretcher, eyes rolled back. I wasn’t going to let it ruin my night. Footage of whales lumbering on highways was projected on a wall, interlaced with colored lights flashing on and off. ‘It’s where they shot Skyfall!’ exclaimed a James Bond fan in the crowd. The guy next to me had painted his beard blue and stuck gold stars on it. At first I was like, ‘Johnny Depp?’ Naked women in transparent clothes stepped off the curb. I’m just praying they’re OK.
(Assembled in part from an article in Hyperallergic about London’s first Art Night)
There’s a screaming woman with blood on her hands. She’s begging me for help. But, first, I must identify the celebrity in a T-shirt that says ‘Dear God, Fuck You’. My answer gets entered with all the others into a computer for a chance to win one of 1,000 prizes. And then? And then the neighbors, yellow-faced with fear, will stand on the sidewalk in whispering groups uselessly speculating as to what’s about to happen. I have a suspicion that a box containing hair, birds, and constellations has been left during the night where I must hunt to find it.
I don’t say anything about being woken up by the shout of a bird flying away over the bruised-looking plain. Birds didn’t arrive on the planet going ‘Fuck you’ to everyone. Now, though, there’s never enough space between earth and sky. I’m often asked, ‘What happened to your ear?’ I just say, ‘Steely Dan on the headphones.’
There was only grass. I couldn’t pass it through my throat. Yet I forced myself to swallow in front of the children so they would accept it as food. I start feeling anxious whenever I remember those days. It was a time for nothing much – one child teasing another, twins committing suicide together, a man drinking in the woods. We dialed F-U-C-K-Y-O-U and L-O-V-E-Y-O-U to see what would happen. Someone knocked at the door and gave us his ear in a folded piece of paper, saying, ‘Take it, it will be useful.’
Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.
Image credit: half alive – so zzzz