After Orlando

The Angel of Death had yellow—
and-black wings that looked
gold and gray in the setting sun.

You can be killed any time
by someone you don’t know.

My mother’s side of the family doesn’t
exist anymore. Someone killed them all—

had them gassed, shot, hanged, injected.
I can’t think too much about it without

feeling I’m meeting the person I might’ve
been. Billions of us occupy the same small

planet, but it only seems like we’re sharing.

This isn’t any ordinary day.
Slippery is a word that’s everywhere.
Coated bullets are slippery.
People slip away over the border.
There’s nothing left to see here. Nothing.
The flowers that were supposed
to come back every year haven’t.
It’s a vagabond life. Flames behave
in ways no one thought possible.

Yes, Kafka’s sister lived there, too.
She picked up a spider she found
in the house and put it back outside.
Give thanks to thoughtful hands.

-Howie Good

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. Other work of his can be found at