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.
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.
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.