THREE POEMS BY HOWARD WINN
The lemmings throng at the dormitory exits,
gathering to go south
for sun, fun, and games,
not to mention various
intoxicants, uppers and downers,
pills, liquids, needles, and just
stimulation or its converse,
some tranquil state,
and careful and casual intimacy,
as well as wild and uncontrolled
fucking on the beach blankets,
careful to keep the sand off
the membranes of desire.
Blasé and cool, hot and immersed,
a multiple choice test outside
the ordinary academic world
of collecting data useful
for the rest of life after
the lemming leap into the void
which turns out to be quite
familiar after all.
We look into the dense trees behind the house
and see the wild phlox turning the edge
of the lawn a tall ragged purple pink.
We did not plant them there,
as we did not plant the forget-me-nots
that proceeded them in May.
Deep in the shade of the woods
beyond the sun-seeking phlox
are the lady slippers with their genital blossoms
dotting the natural mulch of the woods floor,
thrusting upward out of the damp brown.
Like giant bullfrogs,
fog horns remind us that clouds
come down beyond our land
and blur the horizon into the sea.
The bells of dancing buoys toll
in tenor counterpoint to the bass
of the horns.
We listen and watch.
FRENCHMAN IN CARPENTRAS
These all came from the Papal library originally
waving his hands at the shelves
ranged before us.
From here all the way to there.
That was when the real Pope came to Avignon,
and brought the sacred books here.
Now they are kept safe in Carpentras,
rather than in our Papal Palace.
No, they are not the source of the
anti- semantic vandalism in the cemetery.
Overblown by the news.
The books could become a tourist attraction.
but unlike you tourists will never get here.
Return them, you ask?
Of course not,
not to those smooth Italians,
or those crude Poles,
or smug Germans, no less.
We French will guard them
because we are literary and sophisticated.
Not many Americans understand.
We know the worth of these words
and these pictures, these holy words.
What do the usurpers and pretenders know?
Let me show you some of the rarest ones,
the illuminated manuscripts.
They are priceless.
Howard Winn’s B. A. is from Vassar College and his M. A. is from the Stanford University Writing Program. His writing has most recently appeared in The Long Story, Chaffin Journal, Harbinger Asylum, Galway Review, Antigonish Review, and New Verse News.
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