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SHJ Issue 9
Spring 2014

[Three Poems]

by Terence Winch

Social Security

No one is safe. The streets are unsafe. 
Even in the safety zones, it’s not safe. 
Even safe sex is not safe. 
Even things you lock in a safe 
are not safe. Never deposit anything 
in a safety deposit box, because it 
won’t be safe there. Nobody is safe 
at home during baseball games anymore.
At night I go around in the dark 
locking everything, returning 
a few minutes later 
to make sure I locked 
everything. It’s not safe here. 
It’s not safe and they know it. 
People get hurt using safety pins.
It was not always this way. 
Long ago, everyone felt safe. Aristotle 
never felt danger. Herodotus felt danger 
only when Xerxes was around. Young women 
were afraid of wingèd dragons, but felt 
relaxed otherwise. Timotheus, however, 
was terrified of storms until he played 
one on the flute. After that, everyone 
was more afraid of him than of the violent 
west wind, which was fine with Timotheus. 
Euclid, full of music himself, believed only 
that there was safety in numbers.

—From The Drift of Things (The Figures Press, 2001); reprinted here by author’s permission


Annual Report

for Doug Lang
I hate this entire year, the way it stops 
and starts, dries you out, soaks you, lulls you 
to sleep, then wakes you up in a cold sweat. 
Not to mention the pills that are required 
just to get through it. I’m on Tylenol 
with codeine at this very moment. 

It sees to it that the bills keep coming, 
marked by obvious deceit. The dentist we despise 
who keeps overcharging us, for example. 
It is so objectionable, so unfair. 
Where are the free lunches of yesteryear, 
the Martinis, Manhattans, highballs 
on the hotel terrace overlooking the magic 
domes of the glittering city? 

It was not like this in 1982, I can tell you that. 
1982 let you smoke all the True Blues you wanted. 
It said, go ahead—have fun! Eat giant hamburgers, 
huge slices of cake, big platefuls of French fries. 
Fuck all night, sleep late, call in sick. It told you 
you had to listen to Van Morrison singing 
“Cypress Avenue” over and over, all night long 
till there was nothing left of it to inhale.

—From Falling Out of Bed in a Room with No Floor (Hanging Loose Press); reprinted here by author’s permission


Mission Statement

When I die I promise to haunt 
all my surviving enemies, 
may they be few if any at that point, 
because I hope to outlive them all. 
But if any of them are left 
I’ll keep them awake all night with weird noises. 
I’ll whisper words in their ears while they sleep 
to encourage feelings of low self-esteem  when they awake.
Actually, I’ll never let them sleep. 
I’ll kick them out of bed 
just as they’re falling 
into deep slumber.
Or maybe I’ll just let them be. 
Enemies are such a responsibility, 
and eat up so much time.
Perhaps I’ll just travel, 
which I didn’t really enjoy 
much while alive. I’ll travel, 
eat fish, listen to rap music 
and bluegrass, read a lot 
of trade association magazines, 
have numerous root canals, 
and settle down somewhere in Ohio.

—From The Drift of Things (The Figures Press, 2001); reprinted here by author’s permission


SHJ Issue 9
Spring 2014

Terence Winch

writes some of the cleverest & most amusing poems in America. He has published a number of collections of poetry including This Way Out (Hanging Loose, 2014), Lit from Below (Salmon Poetry [Ireland], 2013), Falling Out of Bed In a Room With No Floor (Hanging Loose, 2011), and The Drift of Things (The Figures, 2001), among others. His work has appeared in numerous anthologies; and he has received an NEA Fellowship in Poetry and won the Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writing.

[See also Verse Daily’s About Terence Winch, which includes a link-list of other poems of his on the web.]

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury