Five poems – Paul-Victor Winters

Paul-Victor Winters

Untitled (Present)

The bounced check is the mother of resignation.
No, the sad diagnosis begets poorly-calculated drug interactions.
The pink envelope of the shut-off notice & twelve failed steps & portable oxygen tanks.

The pinched nerve is the enemy of ambition.
No, borderline numbers in the blood work beget collected obit clippings.
Congestive heart disease & tooth decay & bankruptcy.

Apoplexy is the mother of ennui.
No, the blown head gasket begets a gut full of resentment.
A court summons & outpatient therapy & anemia.

The broken vow is the enemy of momentum.
No, weak and frenzied neurons beget the palsied limb.
The card declined at the counter & hypertension & anaphylaxis on a fine holiday.

Or else, glaucoma & the collection agents’ incessant calls.
Or else, the defaulted account & the misdiagnosis.
Or else, vertigo & regret, grief & cataracts.

Flat

I can appreciate a nail’s critical blow to an old tire.

I was always in a hurry to solve something.

Scene: I dodder on my knees, then my back, next to the old Buick, with a weighty x-shaped crowbar and a hand-me-down jack, ready for a challenge.  

It’s a farm road and there’s no explaining why I’m here, what had been my itinerary, what lesson in masculine responsibility I thought I might master.

But cows bellowed “r-r-rube” as clouds mounted one another, fat copulators.

Scene: one cow approached the fenceline, close to my prone body, lowering her hefty box of a head, peeping with her white-rimmed jewel eyes.

She also wanted to solve a problem. And rain started.  And she folded her ridiculous legs beneath her and settled down next to me, blinking like a conversation, letting the rain coat her, solving the problem.

Grief

On the first day trapped in the maze,
I dragged a rusty-wheeled wagon full of dead kestrels.
The sky opened and dropped blades.
On day two, I traversed a thicket of clover and thistles.
On the third day trapped in the maze,
I caught sight of the mountain, sparrows descending,
and I shared my narrow dirt path with fellow pilgrims.
On the fourth day trapped, we carried white lanterns,
and climbed a slope of broad clay steps,
the mountain still off in the distance.
There’s the clean, white mountain.
Here are steps.
What a vast maze!
What a narrow, ceaseless path!

End

Ten geldings march backward from the monastery
to The Home for Sick Children, small aircraft
hovering over the Theological College.
The final day rolls laboriously forth.
We can’t blink it gone: ice breaks in sun,
clouds still themselves, clamorous wind
ceases to tumble. An imam, a lama, a rabbi,
and a priest walk into a bar. And us?
We speak in tongues as we walk, carrying lutes
and baritone saxophones, walk through dense
fog, toward a pallid fluttering
that may be of long-cloaked angels’ wings.
Soldiers shoot craps in an alley. There,
a chicken with a man’s head. All that is left
is animatronic or rhetorical.

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