3 Poems [by Terence Winch]

The End of the World Polka


There is a story about a ghost   who knelt in the attic with his

mouth open, his tongue hanging out,

and even the wind was frightened

of him, and even the moon and stars

were frightened of him. He could extract

all the wisdom out of everyone in the house

and devour all the holiness and knowledge

that ever hath been embedded in the hearts

of all who dwelt in that dark place

of pestilence. Oh, who would ever deny it?

Who would have enough air to inhale

the necessary antidotes of fierce courage

and forbidden thoughts of everlastingness?


The constellations wink and the deep and terrifying dark of the unthinkable

universe, the one, you know, that keeps expanding further and further out

into the farthest reaches of the tiny molecule that is the actual universe

wherein all the other

supposedly infinite universes reside,

that deep and terrifying dark

releases its hot, uptown electricity

into the cosmic, comic fallen world of light, where people get married,

daughters talk back to their fathers,

and one spidery ding in the windshield

spreads everywhere throughout the kingdom

until the ground cracks open

and the priests fall in to their doom.




Irish Town


The drunken girls are in the ocean.
When they come out it will be time for Mass
and communion at St. Camillus. Our souls
are scrubbed clean by now, though we eye
their lovely curves outlined in tight white skirts.

There are no strangers here. We are all immigrants
to the 20th century and we learn time
with our feet. We can smell the music
like the new mown meadows of the homeland.
Over here, we have too much to eat
but never enough to fill us up.

We talk incessantly in our sleep
and we are always asleep. Our dreams
are ridiculous cartoons about monsters
that nonetheless wake us with our own screams.
We are stupid about love, dumb about sex,
and captured for life by the rapture of loss.




Incidents of Travel in the Minivan  


I wake up in a car park at the airport
in Darbytown, a medium-sized city
125 miles from Wellington, New Zealand.
I have only just landed, and it is a
beautiful, sparkling day. I find myself

Sitting behind the wheel of my rental
van, consulting a map, when the only
other motorist in the car park, a few
spaces away, yells over to me, “Hey,
mate, there’s a condor on your roof.
Best beware.” As you probably know

Condors are about as big as the average
sized man, and they are known to
snatch drivers right out of their cars,
who are never seen again. I immediately
hit the button to close the window

And that’s when I hear it. The condor
growling like a mad dog, angry
that I have closed the window before he
can grab me and make off with his prey.
Until then, I did not know a bird could growl.








TW Dec 2014

Terence Winch’s most recent books are This Way Out (Hanging Loose Press, 2014), Lit from Below (Salmon Poetry [Ireland], 2013), and Falling Out of Bed in a Room with No Floor (Hanging Loose, 2011). He has received various awards and honors, including an American Book Award, an NEA grant, and a Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writing.

Poem [by Vincent Katz]

Mais Suave Igualmente Eficaz


I saw something on Avenida Nossa Senhora de Copacabana
photophilia an all-white showroom called Arpoador

adesivos personalizados envelopamento dos veiculos
and just off Avenida Atlantica:

bikinis yellow umbrellas beach chairs abandoned facing ocean
two fishing boats anchored

rock islands shooting up out of plane
cloud tumults blue harbored in midst of streaks dark hovering

thought I saw a shrine to bespectacled poet of Rio
but it was only a figure of public interest

two girls in black bikinis far away and long ago bend to consider wares
of beach vendor, then don their street apparel, white

young men with wide chests, exposed elderly women free in sidestreet breeze
dumptruck full of earth and rocks, dripping brown water on mosaics

Cariocas afraid rain will damage leather or imitation-leather
their frame of mind, ultimate desire to go to beach

no one believes sitting on a beach in the rain could be a good thing,
as on Long Island, or Maine, or other places we have attempted it

good we were able to forget those
attempters of life-structuring, our lives in particular, which brook no structure

our lives must fall, as yellow petals fall to mosaics, in rhythms which turn
discotheques to museums, museums to bookstores, bookstores to rain

endless walking in front of beach looking walking mountains loom
voracious mouth of violence glutted but is now sorriso of banjo player

endless bodies of looking, comparison in front of beach,
in front as day slips from noon to afternoon

in everyone’s biography, one mysterious detail: they all die
of all geniuses who lived, hasn’t one figured out how not to die?

life in this moment, siren breaking through
in two-pitch whine, waking from mid-life slumber

see things few see — parts of lives —
tiny silhouette across jumping into lighted space

light sectors in darkened building sit and watch, decide
not unimportant, not nothing, but

everything happening we are gifted with
possibility of any moment

how can clouds be white against dark sky?
how can person be ready for trip from one continent to another?

lying on beach in mid-city, looking up,
seeing one single illuminated point in all the darkness









Vincent Katz is a poet, translator, and critic. He is the author of eleven books of poetry, two books of translation, and his art criticism has been published in numerous books, catalogues, and journals. He is the editor of Black Mountain College: Experiement In Art, published by MIT Press in 2002 and reprinted in 2013.  He is the author of The Complete Elegies Of Sextus Propertius (Princeton, 2004), Alcuni Telefonini, a collaboration with painter Francesco Clemente published by Granary Books, and One-Liners, a chapbook from Faux Press.  He was the publisher of the poetry and arts journal VANITAS during its 10-year run and continues to publish Libellum books.  He curates the Readings in Contemporary Poetry series at Dia Chelsea and is on the staff of the MFA Program in Art Criticism and Writing at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he has taught the courses “The Poet As Critic” and “Investigating Interdisciplinarity.” This poem above is from his upcoming book Swimming Home.