What Makes the Dark So Dark
You didn’t look like you anymore. I wasn’t there even when I was. We were living a life of shadows, of echoes, and with some particles capable of switching between the two. “Hey,” the train conductor said, “you all right?” I was like yes, yes, yes, I want to do this. Out the window, I saw these arched backs, these women working side by side in the fields, and then an old barn sagging under the blood and gold of the sinking sun.
More than a few women read true crime books about serial killers just to gather survival tips. “OK,” they silently remind themselves, “I don’t get into the Volkswagen.” Some know what a knuckle duster is. Some were named after characters in now-defunct soap operas. Some, as a joke, take selfies in the spotted mirrors of public restrooms. Some are depressed on Sundays. You want to find out if this is in you. I’m no psychologist, or any other kind of -ologist, but, before you go to bed at night, look at the darkness.
I’v e given up trying to translate bird language into English. Nothing can persuade the crows in particular to speak clearer, whether they’re confessing petty crimes, or bragging, or retelling jokes. This might be more endurable if the dark wasn’t so dark. At times I resolve to become like the drunks who, sufficiently enraged, can just shrug off the effects of being tasered. Other times what interests me isn’t success, but love, how the next person adds onto it without knowing all its nimble and sinister tricks.
We know the magician doesn’t actually make the card disappear, but where does it go? One day it’s my 30-year-old cousin found dead in bed from an overdose; another day, it’s high school seniors raising their arms in the Nazi salute for a yearbook photo; another, it’s Jesus giving out tickets to heaven behind the KFC. Meanwhile, women in Siberia say that when the time comes, they want to be buried in their wedding dresses. No place seems realer than any other. In the tent city, they’re washing themselves with bottles of Coke to help minimize the sting of tear gas.
I can’t quite get a handle on what I’m seeing and hearing. Some people perish before they ever can. At headquarters the police drop a chamber orchestra out of a fifth-floor window. Music fans create a pop-up shrine to the victims, with candies, teddy bears, messages, only to later suffer bluish lips and difficulty breathing. So, yes, the best part of the day is early in the morning, really early, when the barbed wire and gun towers lean toward the red end of the spectrum, and all because of that one person who thinks to ask, “What if there’s a fire?”
Ducks are swimming in Rome’s fountains, dolphins splashing in Venice’s canals. The loud sun blinds with cold, slimy energy. Rudolph Hess, the only inmate in Spandau Prison, was 93 years old when he hanged himself in his cell. On a train bound for nowhere you know where you are.
Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.