Howard Winn – Five Poems

write2Howard Winn’s fiction and poetry, has been published recently by such journals as Dalhousie Review, Taj Mahal Review (India), Galway Review (Ireland), Antigonish Review, Literature Today, The Long Story, Pennsylvania Literary Review , Blueline, Chaffin Review, Thin Air Literary Journal, and New Verse News. His B. A. is from Vassar College. His M. A. is from the Stanford University Writing Program. His doctoral work was done at N. Y. U. He has been a social worker in California and currently is a faculty member of SUNY as Professor of English.


Chicory time.
Stiff green shafts
shift in the wind
of autos on the roadway.
Wiry branches wave
their cornflower blue.
Blossoms daisy-like
in shape but without
the virginal white petals,
rise on these stems
to announce midsummer.
Persisting in spite of
inhospitable earth,
the seeds fallen from wagon
loads of corn,
punished under the hooves
of horses first driven by
settlers to this new land,
grow again and again.
They line the modern roads
and highways as if they belonged,
and by now they do.
Like all émigrés eventually
they have become our flowers,
as much as the daisies.
How can one tell the early
or late blossom
once the plants have settled in.
We have no choice but
to accept new settlers.


The Middle Ages have returned,
slipping around the corner of today
and sprawling in the way of tomorrow.
Medieval times were never really banished,
just hiding,
filled with myth,
anger at the reasonable,
suspicious of science as the Pope
was of Galileo,
that heretic with evidence,
the damning of Darwin
as if there had never been
the Victorian love of the natural world.
Curiosity is a deadly sin.
Earthquakes are the devil’s work
and hurricanes are God’s
punishment for unnatural practices.
Murder becomes acceptable
if someone stands in the way
of revelation, shot down in a Church
by a messenger from some heaven
beyond the moon and stars.
Progress seems an illusion.


Like a modern remake
of an old movie,
playing the sentimental
tunes of the past,
overacted as in the original
models from the beginning,
risen from the grave
as one of the brain-
eating zombies
without conscience,
driven by the blood-
lust for brains and bacon,
scrambled with eggs.
God is dead
said Friedrich Nietzsche,
The churches are his tombs,
but for some it is required
that the ghostly shade rise
to blind the bright sun
of rationality and reason.


The words fall at random,
like autumn leaves in the wind.
This way and that the sentences
pile up and then fall apart.
Each may have meaning
or not at that moment.
How the breeze of caprice
circulates the fragments
of thought as brittle
as the dried foliage falling
around writer and reader
or as light and as fragile
as the ash from the dead
remains of an extinguished
autumn fire unburied.


It was like a story out of F. Scott,
a benign version in its way
of an anecdote on the edges of that
typical tale from the freedom
of the 1920s as the young escaped
the Victorian world of their elders.
He was sued for “Breach of Promise”
in that now antiquated court action
of those times when he dumped
a betrothed the show girl
who was just out for money
and found a proper and cuter,
more available other young woman
and they married although he began
in his business a long term affair with
his devoted secretary when career
took over and his wife in some retaliatory
skirmish entered into her own game,
an extra-marital condition with an old friend
who was exciting but unreliable.
Nothing permanent to upset the
proper manners expected of the rising
upper middle class in the expensive suburbs.
It was the times and as F. Scott put it,
these people could walk away from
the mess they had created when urge
and opportunity had plunged them
into complications that could not
be resolved without bad publicity.
Of course, the past cannot really
be expunged and remains always
in the present to haunt and anger
the apparent innocents involved.
Even on the inevitable deathbed
angry memories do not easily die.
That is the consequence of total freedom.

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