Rimbaud In Africa


Only a madman stops here.

Business is down. The news is bad.

You leave in the company

of savages or imbeciles.

Home is always further on.



The route you traveled

is no longer in use.

There is just this light,






Straight in front of me

but wrapped in clouds,


you step naked and small

from the clawfoot tub.


Ancient voices of children

sing outlawed songs.


With what may be a smile,

a terrible rain begins.

Animal Life



Knives and chains merge into one vast night. I mash down on the brake. Rimbaud might have described it as the noise of spiders. Somewhere there’s a picture of me with a different face. Why force a giraffe into a flower pot? I keep thinking. I pass a sixth day in bed gnawing my side, but otherwise alone. The gods respond to questions only in the summer when all the windows are open.



Shiloh means “place of peace,” she tells me. I tell her that Freud endured thirty-three operations for cancer of the jaw. It’s already the afternoon when we’re visited by a man with sleep-tousled hair. Life has been reduced to the paper one accumulates passing through it. Years from now, we’ll make the rocks leap and split. Meanwhile, the circus bears must dance their creepy minuet.

What Love Is This


And when I fill you, you’re Atlanta,

smoldering and in ruins,

and I’m a cart loaded

with the groaning wounded,


we’re twelve grains of gunpowder

floating mightily through the air, 

a new kind of pearl-handled combustion,

and the only patch of snow to endure


to evening on our quiet street.


six poems by Howie Good

Elfie Huntington
Elfie Huntington

It Is All A Hum


I was taken all aback – abaft – to be abashed

The fever begins to abate – to be abed

We will abide by this – What is this about

What remains over and above

Tell one where about I shall find it

I will bring it about

The thing was blazed abroad and failed

You must learn to abstain from these indulgences


Back a little – Background – Backslider

He will not be backward to undergo –

Backward fruit, children, season

Walk read backwards – This is not so bad


I huff this man – to hug a sin – a huge eater

The hulks – it is all a hum – humdrum

You humour him – hunchbacked – Hurl

this matter is hushed. . .



From Arthur Rimbaud’s handwritten list of English phrases, cited in Charles Nicholl, Somebody Else: Arthur Rimbaud in Africa, 1880-91 (University of Chicago Press, 1997), pp. 52-53.



The Wilderness



I stand knee-deep in blue grass.

There’s a haze between me

and the rest of the world.

In the sudden start,

somebody lost his hat.

Nobody stops to pick it up.

Tonight we’ll water our horses

in the Tennessee River.

The stars will be hard to see.



Along the dark riverbank,

moans and shrieks,


and nobody with whom to exchange

heartbroken glances.



If they won’t love me,

the Lord said, they can fear me,


every bush hung with shreds

of bloodstained clothing.

These poems appeared previously in Missive, Stone Highway, and elimae.

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