Terence Winch

Harbinger; At The Museum;Neighborhood Holiday Party: Terence Winch


I told the old people at the party
I wouldn’t go with them
on a long ocean voyage
to meet the deities
of the ancient world.
They said unto me,
nobody even asked you, pal.

They didn’t have to be rude,
but that’s the kind
of old people they were.
I knew they were in search
of eternity, which I also knew
would find them soon enough.

My friend gave me a rock. The rock
is white and beautiful. I think it may
contain a spirit of some kind. I think
it may be a talisman or a harbinger,
both of which I am always on the lookout for.

I also like shells. Their emptiness,
their acceptance of abandonment
greatly appeal to me. I would like
to wash up out of the ocean like them
someday, bleached white, upturned
like a cupped palm beseeching alms.


At the Museum

They keep the 14th century
on the lower level. Then they work
their way back up through slavery
all the way to 2017.
Elevator time travel
wears you down.

I go in the opposite direction, up where
they keep the old suits and guitars,
the sit-com scenes, the miraculous
blasphemies that inspire us all.

But pretty soon I’ve had as much as I
can take of all this anguish and heartache.
I walk to 14th Street. I crave pizza so bad.
I wonder if the pizza place I used to go to
years ago is still there in the food court.

Then I am reading the New York Times
and eating my slice. The news is bad.
The pizza is great. All travel is time travel.
I’m leaving town on Thursday. But I’m
returning in the future, which is now,
o you who are reading this.


Neighborhood Holiday Party

I forget what you just said.
Maybe you proposed a toast
to the memory of your dead dog.

No, wait, I remember now: your
girlfriend got the dog in a custody
agreement. For all you know,
maybe the dog is long dead.

Not everything is about sex.
People drive here from all
corners of the planet just to sing
the old songs about real estate
and how to prepare an effective
resume. Not all of us can hit
the high notes, but the low
notes are no problem.

If you have a white car,
paint it red. That is what
the witch doctor said.

The next stop is Tennessee,
where the devil hides in the trees,
his little fingers inserting themselves
into every available orifice.

Terence Patrick Winch has published eight full-length books of poems, numerous chapbooks, one book of nonfiction on his experiences playing traditional Irish music, and one collection of short stories. Some of his books include: The Known Universe (Hanging Loose, 2017), This Way Out (Hanging Loose, 2014), The Drift of Things (The Figures, 2001), and The Great Indoors (Story Line Press, 1989). His first book, Boning Up, was published by Some Of Us Press in 1972. Winch is the winner of an American Book Award, a Columbia Book Award, and a Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writing. He has been featured numerous times on Garrison Keillor’s “Writer’s Almanac” radio program, and was the subject of a profile on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” Winch is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the DC Commission on the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, and the Fund for Poetry. His work is included in more than 40 anthologies, including The Oxford Book of American Poetry and five Best of American Poetry collections. Winch has also written for The Washington Post, The Washingtonian, The Village Voice, The Wilson Quarterly, The Dictionary of Irish Literature, and The Oxford Companion to American Poetry. In the early 1970s, Winch was one of the organizers of the Mass Transit poets, a group that organized poetry readings and published a literary journal. He is one of the co-founders of Some Of Us Press. He has also been closely associated with the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in lower Manhattan. Born in the Bronx to Irish immigrants, Winch has also played traditional Irish music all his life. In 1977, he started a band with his brother Jesse Winch called Celtic Thunder, and recorded three albums with the group. His new CD is This Day Too: Music from Irish America (Celtic Thunder Music, 2017). The band won an INDIE Award for Best Celtic Album, and in 1992, Winch was named by Irish America Magazine as one of its “Top 100 Irish Americans.” To read more by this author: Terence Winch: Winter 2002 Terence Winch: DC Places Issue