POETS IN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ISSUE
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.
for Bob Hershon
My story is a majestic narrative
that will force you to love me, people of our land.
I have been so long engaged in struggle and survival,
but now I am the author of my destiny.
My mythic history is now seen as the singular element
that breathes spirit and meaning into my extraordinary saga.
I have reclaimed my natural authority as the true center for the
great American narrative. People—heed my dramatic and dynamic voice!
I deliver the goods, but my goods are cultural, aesthetic, spiritual.
My task is to honor the multidimentionality of my unique American story.
I am practically an institution because my life today is full
of ecletic vitality and reverence for the wisdom and knowledge of the past.
No one can see into the future, but when I think of the past I remember
that my grandfather really rocked. My grandmothers died before I was born.
I believe that life infuses all sides of my story, including the inner life.
This makes me special. That's what I claim.
My goal is to be a transformative force in all our lives.
The work is not simple or easy. The challenges are not for the timid.
This momentous aspiration requires patiences, passion, and dedication.
So much depends on your help. Do not put me on hold.
Terence Winch's latest collection is called Falling Out of Bed in a Room with No Floor (Hanging Loose Press, 2011). His work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including four Best American Poetry collections, The Oxford Book of American Poetry, and Poetry 180. He worked as an editor and publications director for two Smithsonian ("a trust entity of the Federal Government") museums. Over a 24-year-period, he produced more than sixty major Smithsonian titles and five music and spoken arts recordings, among other productions.
in Volume 13, Number 3, Summer 2012.
read more by this author:
Winch: DC Places Issue