There is a small room
growing inside the big one.
In its tub you will someday swim,
happy baby on the embryonic sea.
And inside one big bulb, the light swells.
There is a hidden grammar in
the language, which is itself hidden.
You have to keep looking up every word,
hoping the right one will appear. Meanwhile,
would you please turn on the subtitles?
We will be ambitious and seek a thrill.
There is pleasure everywhere, and we
will find it out. We will not bow down.
We will look up at the sky and imagine
our departed friends flying around.
We will eat ice cubes. We will eat salt.
We recognize the importance of minor
keys. We will never surrender to the fascists
assembling in front of the church, waving
bibles. We will always buy the raffle ticket.
Eat the Mango
Everyone wants to come here now.
They love the whistle of the kettle,
the rising aroma of coffee as dawn breaks.
We give them the key to the kingdom
and a ham sandwich for the journey home.
I always mix up arrival and departure.
It feels like we just got here yesterday.
Yet the trees you planted are a hundred
feet high now while we are shrinking.
We leave tomorrow and return today.
Give Yourself Away
Time was promised to us long ago.
We are blessed with keys, money,
more mangoes than we can eat.
They lay us down on the timetable
and tell us the payment will never
come due. They change the tax codes.
May your deathbed be a place of
merriment, they proclaim. Love never
dies, they say. They sing us hymns to say
they are near us still, and we believe it
You say yesterday tastes like coconut.
I say you can add ice to tomorrow
stir it and drink it and still the future
will not unfold. That’s what I’ve been told.
But we can’t bear to wait for the results.
We dream, as always, of long-ago dances
in the school hall. We sneak a smoke.
They say that time is running out
into the street, prophesying revolution.
But what we really want is absolution.
A Brief Description of Life in the Sky
In the time remaining it was raining
at the airport and off, off forth flew
the planes into the stark November night.
I was there in the dark to mark it all.
The suitcases big as coffins, the milkshakes
served in buckets. We fell back when time
changed on Sunday, as the authorities decreed.
But when you take off again on Thursday, we will still
inhabit the important time zones: the love era,
the past remastered, the future free download.
Terence Winch’s latest book, That Ship Has Sailed, was published in 2023 as part of the Pitt Poetry Series from the University of Pittsburgh Press. He is the author of eight earlier poetry collections. A Columbia Book Award and American Book Award winner, he has also written a young adult novel called Seeing-Eye Boy and two story collections, Contenders and That Special Place. His work has appeared in many journals and in more than 50 anthologies, among them the Oxford Book of American Poetry, Poetry 180, and 6 editions of Best American Poetry. He is the recipient of an NEA Poetry Fellowship and a Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writing, among other honors. The works featured here are from his forthcoming book of occasional love poems called It Is as If Desire, due in 2024 from Hanging Loose Press.