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February 03, 2014


Faced with the prospect of 'saying something on the blog' in response to this poem after 'liking' it on facebook, I find it's difficult to find something specific to say.

I think this is a good thing. I think that when a poem is what it is in as fully a way as it could be, there's probably nothing a person *can* really say - unless they're an academic and then of course they have to spout arcane nonsense.

A poem that is most fully itself, if you and the poem know each other somehow, makes one just sit with it.

Just sit with it.

And that's what I'm doing, and I anticipate I'll be doing it at random moments when the poem re-appears next to me as the day goes on.


Another knockout poem only Terence Winch could write. And make it look so easy.

Obviously this is a poem that's much more than just about losing one's physical virginity. It's also about losing one's innocence, not just once but "a thousand times," and how we rationalize our complicity in those losses. Winch's intentionally conflicted yet still defiant language describing the old friend discovered to be a child molester expertly conveys the vacillation between friendship and revulsion, between attraction to another in one guise and the shattering of that attraction in the cruel recognition of a disguise. "Until it happens to you with someone you care about, you won’t really understand what I’m talking about. So don’t judge," but the poem's narrator knows the reader will judge. Why? Because of this admission: "Even I, for many years, compartmentalized this information." The narrator is testing his decision to be indecisive and is judging himself, perhaps irresolutely, which is how judgements stemming from a mix of distress and doubt tend to end. That's the Yeatsian "terrible beauty" of this poem: we all secretly want to revel carnally again in, or desperately want to be taken off the hook for, our losses of "virginity." Either way, we're screwed.

Terence Winch shows again why he is one of our most talented, incisive, and refreshingly risk-taking poets.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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This Way Out

by T.P.Winch

Ringfinger was nervous
Pinky terrified
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.



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