Howard Winn‘s work, both short fiction and poetry has been published in Dalhousie Review, The Long Story, Galway Review, Antigonish Review, Chaffin Review, Evansville Review, 3288 Review, Straylight Literary Magazine, and Blueline. He is a member of the Academy of American Poets. He has a novel published by the Propertius Press. 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
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?
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.
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.