Howard Winn – Five Poems

poet3Howard Winn‘s work, both fiction and poetry has been published in Dalhousie Review, The Long Story, Antigonish Review, Chaffin Review, Evansville Review, 3288 Review, Straylight Literary Magazine, and Blueline as well as in the Galway Review a number of times.. He has a novel coming out in July from the Propertius Press. His B. A. is from Vassar College. his M. A. from the Stanford University Creative Writing Program. His doctoral work was done at N. Y. U. He is Professor of English at SUNY.


THERE IS A FOR SALE SIGN

from Century 21 Real Estate
on the Quaker Meeting House.
Is there a floating congregation
of some denomination looking
for a simple home?
And where have all the
Quakers gone?
Is quiet time waiting for the
spirit to move someone
into speech out of style?
Have the few non-violent left
fled to a Unitarian Fellowship,
or gone to join the Humanities
anti-church in rebellion against
the rising tsunami of the fundamental?
What would Jesus have done,
if we can figure out who the
historical figure might actually
have been as he tried to undermine
the Roman Empire and got his death
and myth from Saint Peter in reward?
Whatever the cause, the lights are out
and the door bolted at the Quaker
Meeting House as the cold building
waits for an unclear resurrection.
Where have all the Quakers gone?


LEARNING

The University of Maryland
is providing its classrooms
with the very latest white boards.
There go the ancient black boards
replaced by large white squares
against which the antique chalk
would be invisible to students
staring into iPads and laptops
and tapping their way to knowledge.
As college administrators are also
quick to point out there is the
added benefit to vulnerable faculty
that these educational supports
are not just conventional visual aids,
they are also bullet-proof in the
event of armed student attack.
Think of them as shields for
the violent game of the medieval
jousting that some learning is,
even in this rational century,
lacking other armor,
when reason appears insufficient.


NINETEEN-SIXTY-EIGHT AND AFTER

Make love not war.
Who was it who wrote those words?
The age of Aquarius and the poster for Woodstock
are both abandoned,
dusty in the garage
where the British sports car has been replaced
by a Japanese hybrid.
One cannot live eternally in San Francisco,
smoking on the corner of Haight and Ashbury,
reclining on the pavement,
finding philosophy only in the City Lights Bookstore
and in the patchouli odor of the Beats.
One grew up, got the degrees, married a college classmate,
moved to the suburbs in cordial California,
taught serious students the revelations of art,
had four children who became sterling citizens.
Weather people,
male and female,
could not weather the storm,
it would seem,
and became either establishment,
enrolled members of the Democratic Party,
Libertarians without conscience,
Ayn Rand lovers, decaffeinated Tea Party-ers,
embracers of some false god, or other,
or dead.
The living should not forget that
you can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant.
Walk right in, it’s around the back,
just a half a mile from the railroad track,
You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant,
but not Alice.


ACCIDENTAL

We look into the dense trees behind the house
and see the wild phlox turning the edge
of the lawn a tall ragged purple pink.
We did not plant them there,
as we did not plant the forget-me-nots
that proceeded them in May.
Deep in the shade of the woods
beyond the sun-seeking phlox
are the lady slippers with their genital blossoms
dotting the natural mulch of the woods floor,
thrusting upward out of the damp brown.
Like giant bullfrogs,
fog horns remind us that clouds
come down beyond our land
and blur the horizon into the sea.
The bells of dancing buoys toll
in tenor counterpoint to the bass
of the horns.
We listen and watch.


WILD TURKEY

Stalking across my yard,
she moves her head both
back and forth as well as
up and down like the old
reptile she once was be-
for the dinosaurs grew
feathers and diminished
into our birds, but she
coming out of the woods
looms over the finches
or chickadees crowding
the bird feeder contesting
right of feeding with a
tenacious gray squirrel
who does not fear these
dinosaur descendants.
He whips his tail in fury
but she with the easy
nonchalance of her history
assets the right to clean
the ground where the
eager nuthatches have
scattered seeds from the
human feeder for she
is the serpentine queen
of this ordinary back yard.

 

 

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