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Thursday, April 08, 2021


by Howie Good

The SS officer rolled the corpse over, and the girl saw the face of her music teacher, with blood here and there. He had gone to fetch a ration of bread, and a loaf was sticking out of his coat. The girl drew closer. It looked like a serious piece of bread, and Jews had little to eat, soup that was mostly water with grass. Her instinct was to grab the bread and run. But she left it. She left it because she saw his face, with blood here and there.


When someone complains to me about trivial stuff, I’ll say, “Oh yeah, try going through life as a Howard.” In Judaism, at least as practiced by my parents, one is named in honor of a person who has died. I was named in honor of my mother’s father’s brother. I never met him. I’ve never even seen a picture of him. He died long before I was born and without leaving a trace—except for the 100-year-old man, a former guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, arrested in Germany on 3,518 counts of being an accessory to murder.


It’s spring in name but not in substance. The land, to my amazement, seems to constantly rearrange itself in wild new patterns of rage and decay. On the border, small brown children languish in lockups. On city streets, young black men in police chokeholds beg for breath. There is something I have to do. I don’t know how I will do it. I just know from the pressure of tears behind my eyes that it has to be done.

Howie Good is the author of more than a dozen poetry collections, including most recently The Death Row Shuffle (Finishing Line Press), The Trouble with Being Born (Ethel Micro Press), and Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing).