Howard Winn – Five Poems

21Howard Winn’s poetry and fiction has been published in a number of literary journals including Dalhousie Review, Southern Humanities Review, Antigonish Review, Descant, Chaffin Journal, The Pennsylvania Literary Journal, New Verse News, and Sediments Literary Arts Journal. He is a Professor of English at the State University of New York.


They are usually as quiet as the tomb these minsters are,
unless you visit during a service.
Shuffling tourists may be the only sound
as the reverential visitors,
mostly American or German and some from the far east
where newly rich Chinese or Japanese
find the sightseeing equivalent of their BMW at home
while taking pictures of themselves to exhibit upon return.
God might have apparently come to earth
and then gone away if the Church of England
had not just made Him up by a virgin conception via Rome.
What kingly lust and the need of a male heir can bring into being.
Worcester Cathedral, Coventry, Derby, Gloucester,
St. Woolos and I am not joking.
There are the stone replicas of lords and ladies
atop marble sarcophagi, brass plates of major and minor poets,
bolted to the floor where the sun never shines.
Do the enshrined care how many tourists view the remains
in whatever state they have achieved in the centuries
since interment?
These bodies when alive were nothing more than tourists
whichever century they inhabited or whatever importance
they presumed to have had.
And so it goes.


An acquaintance is dying
although her son cannot
face the inevitable fading.
Actually, she is somewhere
between being an acquaintance
and a friend being more than
the former and less than
the latter since we partied
together and attended
musical events with
others of like interests,
but I would say we were
not close on politics
or how to raise children,
but nearly all of the latter have died
and we are the only ones of
the former who have not
grown worn down by the
complaints against the
cruelty of suffering inflicted
by some deity combined with
the neutral medical world
who should be dedicated
to doing no harm
but is driven by profit
and corporate timetables
for treatment and care.
There is no answer but
starvation to bring
it all to the inevitable
conclusion so feared
by the dutiful son,
but so desired by his
weary lonely mother.
It is difficult to watch someone die.


Rumania has had a gold strike
and someone wishes to remove the top of a mountain.
Poor and pitiful,
the country has sold its soul
to a foreign company who owns the miners
for the metal of Midas.
Rumanian air is thick with smoke
and heavy dust to fill
the lungs with the consequences
of wealth
and the mountain top disappears
to the grinding of machines
and the blast of furnaces.
Bricks of gold stack-up for transmission
to vaults,
and Rumanians breath less easily
as strangers wallets grow fatter,
water turns brown and poisonous
and air grows thick as peasant soup.
Somewhere the Pretender to the Throne
sits in an easy chair
which is not a throne,
and wishes to become King,
if not Midas
at least the son of that father
forced to relative privation by dictators
and tyrants,
while even now in the tunnels
beneath the streets of Budapest,
lost children like miners
crawl in the dark seeking safety.


betting parlor at the edge of town
used to be a bustling place
cars filled the parking lot
the overflow edged
close as possible on the
shoals of sidewalk along
New York State Route 44
as the permanently
hopeful made their win
place and show bets
living in eternal hope
of hitting the really big
one that would mean
freedom and a gourmet
restaurant meal at the
famed Culinary Institute
of America CIA to locals
on the other route out
of town near the river
but now there is a
real estate sign nailed
to the shuttered dark
building offering it for
rent or lease or sale
next to the auto repair
shop and tire dealer
because dreams are
over and working at
minimum wage bagging
at the local super market
owned by a Dutch con-
glomerate leaves nothing
left over for the daily
plunge into the joy
of wealth and freedom
and that dream is hallucination
from which there is no awakening.


I wonder why so many of the hedge fund hustlers
come with fat necks overflowing their shirt collars.
Why are I reminded of the pasty white slugs
who attack my defenseless summer garden?
When the newspapers photograph the perp walk
or even present their head shots the tubby flesh
nearly overwhelms the expensive necktie from
The Satya Paul Design Studio made just for you
in Mumbai where class comes for myriad rupees.
Or do they go domestic with high-end Countess Mara?
Does the flab follow from the high caloric high-end
restaurant meals or just the overeating that comes
with the conviction that the feeder is special
and has earned the limitless juicy intake of grub
as they also deserve the profits of the Ponzi schemes
that bring them gigantic garagemahals for six cars and
suburban palaces in upscale communities of Connecticut
while impoverishing the lessor beings who bought on
misplaced faith in the force of the free marketplace;
although the concept of “free” seems rather fluid.
Caveat emptor? It is alive and well on Wall Street.

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