Terence Winch


It is wonderful the way prayers
are always answered. The lost
dog found. Sickness cured.
The dead come back to life,
as I am doing in the future
in this poem, which isn’t
even very good. It could
be improved, I think, with
some dialogue, some feel
of real people talking.

Like if I were to say to you,
“I can’t imagine life without you,”
and you were to reply, “I can’t find
my keys. Have you seen my keys?”

The Dig

Where you stand now,
powerful gods once stood.
People lit candles to them,
said prayers, sacrificed
lambs and virgins
in their honor.

Right above you
were once mythological
beings who lit up the sky
with their seductions.
They were awesome
creatures of the black
firmament. They made
the oceans rumble
and the rest of us humble.

Now you wake up in a daze,
nothing left to amaze you
anymore. The cat is just
a cat, not the devil. The silence
is not trying to tell you
something.  Those scary
shadows in your peripheral
vision are not ghosts. They
are just the spirits of the dead
come back to haunt you.

Search Me

I am not looking for you anymore.
I stopped all that. When I’m in town
and I pass your street I don’t remember
the time you came to my apartment
and asked if I could put you up for
a few weeks. When I look at my face
in the mirror, I don’t see your face.
When I cover myself with the blanket
you left to me, I do not think of your
warmth. When I stir something in
the old cast iron pot you left behind,
I never even think of what a terrible
cook you were. When I hear you
speak again on that ancient tape
it never occurs to me to miss the
sweet sound of your long-lost voice.


Everywhere I look I see your face.      

In the pub, on the bus, in the store.

And though you have left behind no trace,

I feel your absence to my core.

In the pub, on the bus, in the store

most people make me misanthropic

and I feel your absence to my core.

This is so depressing—let’s change the topic.

Most people make me misanthropic,

without regard to race, creed, or gender.

When you’re depressed, it’s hard to change the topic.

I don’t want to fight it anymore. I give up. I surrender.

No one, without regard to race, creed, or gender

could ever take your place.

I give up. Okay, I surrender:
Everywhere I look I see your face.


My lord, I would like a word with you.
You are standing right in my landscape
and I’d like you to leave. Please be gone
by Christmas. I don’t like your women
either, so take them with you, you dying
ember, you sick spirit of money-love,
you enslaver, you evil embracer of
my ecstatic moonlight, on which
I am so alarmingly dependent.

Be gone! I say. Or I will insult you.
I will break your mirrors, smash
your porcelain mermaids, drown
your sorrows in a tiny pill box
filled with glitter is what I’ll do.

Taken together, the above two
stanzas express the frightening
feelings it is possible to have
about someone trying to put you
naked on a giant platter, like, you know,
some cannibal, or some deranged
airline employee maybe, and then trying
to eat you, even while your stomach
is growling and you yourself
are really really hungry.

Terence Winch is the author of eight poetry collections: The Known Universe (2018), This Way Out, Lit from Below, Falling out of Bed in a Room with No Floor, Boy Drinkers, The Drift of  Things, The Great Indoors (Columbia Book Award winner), and Irish Musicians/American Friends (American Book Award winner). He has also written two story collections, Contenders and That Special Place: New World Irish Stories, which draws on his experiences as a founding member of the original Celtic Thunder, the acclaimed Irish band. His work is included in more than 40 anthologies, among them the Oxford Book of American Poetry, Poetry 180, and five editions of Best American Poetry, and has been featured on “The Writer’s Almanac” and NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Winch is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship in poetry and a Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writing, among other honors. 



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