May 2000

Terence Winch


Terence Winch Terence Winch has a book of poems out with Story Line called The Great Indoors (1995), which won the Columbia Book Award in 1996, and an earlier book from Coffee House called Irish Musicians/American Friends (1986), which received an American Book Award. Story Line also published his short story collection Contenders in 1989. He has had work in Best American Poetry 1997, American Poetry Review, New American Writing, The World, Western Humanities Review, The New Republic, and other publications. In 1992, he won a National Endowment for the Arts Writing Fellowship in poetry.

Brain Music    Click to hear in real audio

Everything was exactly the way it had always been:
the limos waiting at the hotel in the square, the boutiques,
scalpers, the patter of salespeople, the elaborate
legal structures. Most of the celebrities of the time
came from the stillness of the local swimming pools,
moving forward like subterranean homeowners
in search of slow rivers. There was scarcely any sound
save the melancholy cries of husbands collapsing.
(There can be no transcendence.)

All the way back to New York, the management tried
to determine each person’s sex by the view of the city
and mountains from their sick beds. The ear doctor
diagnosed all our ailments as simple misunderstanding.
There was nothing really wrong.

After California, the swarm of boys assembled at the station.
They were trying to do everything as "New York" as possible.
They waltzed with their companions, retribalized,
in the last available hotel room in town.

I believe in omens. When the road reached
the sea, I looked for a place to stop before
the storm smothered us. Everyone worried
that the light might be unnatural.



Winter Babies    Click to hear in real audio

Maybe it was the cars crashing tonight,
the full moon, that made us wild.
In the living room there was a big fight
featuring father and mother with child.

Restrooms, elevators were all crowded
with strange-looking nurses and physicians.
Everyone likes these awful mysteries shrouded
behind a wall of grinning technicians.

All regret is symbolic, everyone agreed,
desperately in search of parking spaces,
whining, bickering, picking up speed.
You could see the rebellion in our faces.

Later, our sinus cavities full of antihistamine,
we lie down, embrace, in the bed’s fertile deep,
our focal point some tranquil distant scene,
as we surrender, hypnotized, to the thrill of sleep.



Opera Lesson    Click to hear in real audio

These Indian pictures never lie.
Their rules against extravagant innocence
are always religiously obeyed. Old people
must smoke in a room without glass,
standing next to white window curtains,
thinking of men who "walk like trees."
Clocks are forbidden. People who tend
to suffer too much are always housed
with drunks in apartments filled with gas
from thousands of candles. Infidels gather
in meeting rooms, all absolutely clean and tidy,
all bathed in moonlight, where they study
the art of percussion, sitting apart
on heavy benches.

There is no anxiety here. The skies are pillows
of spotless white. As you walk the streets,
you think about milking cows or you plan
on baking something later in the day. Deviation
is not uncommon, however. That is why many villagers
copulate on the dining room table. There is also
an admonition against falling asleep in the cellar,
where unclean spirits may embellish your faults.

When I got here, I lay down beside your wreckage
and rubbed your clothing all over my body.
Later I watched strangers, their eyes wet with
forgiveness, embrace in stark hallways,
as if some instinct compelled them, like animals
or lovers, to mark the night in ancient whispers.




Terence Winch: Poetry
Copyright � 2000 The Cortland Review Issue 11The Cortland Review