So this is what happens when a loss of faith brings vertigo,
the synagogue is used as a stable, and you find yourself
at a wedding on the grounds of the State Lunatic Asylum,
with Al Jolson dancing the Paved X and Leisurely Looping Z
and death saying to you, “Sorry, we made a big mistake,”
but through it all, and despite bees getting depressed,
each silent silver snowflake falls in the exact right place.
Light bled through,
with tar and ash,
the jagged shadows
of red autumn leaves.
A woman’s straw hat, Pepto-Bismol pink,
skitters past sunbathers metastasizing
on towels and old blankets, whirls down
an empty stretch of white sand beach,
eager to escape, with the wind’s connivance,
the tedium of beautifying a size 71/2 head.
He was sitting down to have a little lunch
along rural U.S. Highway 2, a major route
into and out of the oil patch, and this guy
drives up. He thought he was going to give him
a ride, and, as he approached the vehicle,
the guy pulls out his weapon and shoots him.
Just a week before, he’d left his parents’ house
in West Virginia to hitchhike across the country.
He told sheriff’s deputies he was writing a memoir
titled “Kindness in America.” It’s simple as that.
~Based on “Bail set after hitchhiker writing book on kindness shot near Glasgow,” Billings Gazette, June 10, 2012
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.