Terence Winch's latest book is The Drift of Things (The Figures, 2001). His earlier books of poems include The Great Indoors (Story Line,1995) and Irish Musicians/American Friends (Coffee House, 1986), which received an American Book Award. Story Line also published his short story collection Contenders in 1989. His work has appeared in many anthologies, including Best American Poetry 1997, The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, New American Writing, The World, Western Humanities Review, The New Republic, and others. He has been the recipient of an NEA poetry Fellowship and various other awards.
Just give me the first few notes, a suggestion,
Or, if you really want to play the whole thing,
As though you really knew what it should sound like,
Never let it be said I mounted any obstacles.
Remember how Wittgenstein and Marshall McLuhan wouldn't
Eat dinner near a mirror? They used to chalk it up
To the man standing on the hill in the distance,
Always standing there like a tone-deaf tourist
Lost in a given point in the rectangular cosmos.
Let's not let that happen to us. Let's be totally
Aware of what the Chinese say about unforeseen directions:
Children are born into form, while adults shed emotion, so
Keep your ideology concealed in the piano.
Driving in the worst rain
I'd ever seen, we pulled off the road
and stopped in a graveyard to feed
the baby. There were no cell phones
back then. We were low on gas.
The hungry baby gurgled. I sat there
wondering about the destiny in destination.
When the baby could walk and talk
he sang songs to us about the moon
from the back seat. Soon we were all
singing together. Songs about jam,
cake, trains, bears, and dogs. We prepared
the world for him, stacking turtles in the ocean,
smashing through windows to rescue him,
teaching him to dig holes for love
in the backyard. Dump trucks arrive.
Shovels appear. The earth finally
releases the dreams of our spirits.
Some nights we sleep together in the bed,
sometimes soundly, other times in crazy
journeys to the interior. It's still raining
out there, and water seeps into the house
through cracks in the foundation.
We clean it up, seal it tight, watching
and waiting for the warm enchantment
promised in the fires we remember
from those trips up north long ago,
watching cars burning on
the Turnpike just outside New York.
Any Way You Want Me
We were never there, we were always here.
We never have enough to go on. We remember
the future, pulsing in the silence. We flatten out,
then fill the empire with insurance policies.
We lie on the bed with our knees bent
feeling the expansion of the moon, the seasons.
Because of the stars we pant like a psychopath. A note
under the door says to drink but not swallow.
So in the small of your back in the shower
on a motorcycle try to hold your breath.
They have finished you off.
You would sit outside at the little cafe
and polish off apricots under the waterfall
wishing there were a 7-11 nearby.
The cold night was cold as money.
Men stayed all night in the bathroom
licking their stamps. The sky's dark grays
spun out of control. That was routine.
You hunted for something in the laundry room.
A broken chair, an old photo of miserable pilgrims.