It is my least favorite word in the English language. A sentence that begins with it hasn’t a chance of ending on a happy note, with balloon bouquets and showers of confetti. Instead, the word serves as a kind of alarm bell, its only purpose to alert you that you’re about to be shot in the eye with a nail gun and have all of a nanosecond to prepare yourself. That job you applied for? “Unfortunately. . . ,” the form letter says. Those poems you submitted? “Unfortunately. . . ,” the editor responds. The word is like forced transport to a cruel, monochromatic wasteland of rejection and disappointment. I have been there, am there now, walking in smaller and smaller circles under a sky the size of a “no.”

All Were Completely Surrounded by Blackness (after Mernet Larsen)

Everyone was talking about the same things. We would get a cup of coffee and say to each other, “Have you ever painted a bathtub? A piano? Tornadoes?” It was almost like a competition. I ran back to my studio and started painting yellow fields with bright red cows. The red never looked more like blood. The shadowy talons had never been more teeth-like. Even the angels were painted as if they weighed 150 pounds. I didn’t necessarily end up with meaning. On many sleepless nights I was a man on a raft or someone bunting a baseball.

editor’s note: Howie Good never got back to me regarding an author pic or accompanying image so we assumed him a ghost…props to Dillinger…

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