Terence Winch



We have had enough of your hands
and arms, your shoulders that have

more screws in them, more knots
and gnarls than the floorboards.

Now they want to suck the fat
out of your belly and inject it into

your sagging brain. They want to
prop up your face with toothpicks

and soak your fingertips in hot
water. They will stick your elbows

in a silver bucket of ice cubes.
They will pluck the hairs from

your tongue just for fun. Pull
the thorns from the soles of

your feet, wash your sick blood
in a tub of lemon juice. What’s

the use? You’re not going any
where or getting any. Your body

is a long shot. You’re stuck.
Just hang up, go back upstairs,

say your prayers. Pray for luck.




I will never bike across the United States.
That will never happen. I will never bike anywhere.
Nor will I ever go for a very long solo hike
into the wilderness where my feet will become
blistered and bears and snakes will harass me.
I will never embark on that hike. If I were to
take that hike, I would certainly bring a dog,
and at night around the campfire, my dog
and I would transcend our limitations and
communicate in very profound ways, the huge
man-eating sky overhead, the stars winking
in the heavens, the two of us ready for a good
night’s sleep. Though he would not accompany me
on my bike ride across the United States, where
I would meet all kinds of unforgettable people
and learn the secrets of survival, I just know
he would wait patiently for me night after night
under the ravenous sky, next to that raging river.




Tomorrow: take me there. Or better,
the day after tomorrow. We will cut up
the Percosets and watch cable.
I will remind you of someone
you used to know. You will drag
your trees all over the house. The piano
sits patiently, awaiting us, a big man
with a lovely set of teeth,
the odd bad one here and there.

Every tune is a soliloquy.
We translate all of them that float
into the front room, into the web of trees,
nest of notes, our rise and fall
in the blink of the morning alarm.

Please take me to the other side
where the tiny river flows
along our apartment house
into the dreams of our children.
Crickets are actually forming
words in English I can understand.

I will translate my love for you
in a disappearing voice.
You touch me as light as fingertips
making the sign of the cross.


TERENCE WINCH’s most recent book is a collection of poems called Falling Out of Bed in a Room with No Floor (Hanging Loose, 2011). His work appears in the Oxford Book of American Poetry, Poetry 180, four Best American Poetry collections, and other anthologies, and in many journals, including the Paris Review, Conduit, Smartish Pace, and New American Writing. He has received a number of awards, including an NEA poetry fellowship and a Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writing. Also a traditional musician and songwriter, he released a CD anthology in 2007 of his Irish compositions called When New York Was Irish: Songs & Tunes by Terence Winch.


Read more by and about Terence Winch:

The Best American Poetry Blog
Innisfree Poetry Journal