Three Poems by RC deWinter
I remember lying in that small room with faded hospital green walls,
looking up at the ceiling fan lazily twirling in the tropic air,
watching a gecko making its slow sticky way to the far corner.
Was it the third-floor apartment on Catherine Street or one of the
other temporary refuges in a nameless life? Unafraid of uncertainty,
I was full of the ignorant, innocent immortality of youth. Fate was kind.
Even after that fire – oh yes, that was Catherine Street – that broke out
when I was on stage singing my heart out for drunken tourists snowbirding
in the embrace of the tropics, I had my pick of offers for temporary shelter.
Now I lie in another small room, watching a moonlit shadow play of maple
leaves dancing on brittle shades, my chest a coffin full of remembrance and
regret. Shivering in mortality’s mocking breath, I try to tune the strings of the
fiddle I refused to abandon with the withered fingers of wisdom too late.
i stare out my window at the world
trying to make sense of what I see,
but everything illuminates in staccato flashes
and then, like lightning,
i can’t grasp what passes for reality;
these brilliant bursts have nothing
to hold on to, no permanence.
words and pictures, people and sounds
leave only blurred impressions
on the copperplate of the mind;
nothing sharp and clear develops
as a memory to be saved.
when i dare the sidewalks
i cannot stroll at a good, slow pace,
cannot stop to admire an old doorknob,
a window crammed with curios,
without being jostled by impatient elbows,
almost trampled by flying feet,
all rushing – where? –
in a mad scramble as if speed
will make up for emptiness.
i’m not made for this steeplechase.
i crave immersion,
the steeping of the self in the experience.
book me on that slow boat to china;
give me molasses in january.
i don’t want to live on fast food,
gulping byte-sized chunks of half-truth
in fantasy sauce while rushing
with ten thousand others to the next newest thing.
i must find a place,
complete with cloth napkins
and an orchestra,
where i can sit
and savor a full-course meal.
way after midnight in paris
when i woke up
sour red tongue coated with nicotine and a cheap third pressing
champ was leaning out the casement surveying what wasn't yet
but would be his domain
comforting himself with the tiled puzzles of slate rooftops
where words hid in the thin cracks between those silent slabs
and if you waited long enough
would crawl out and
if you were quick you could trap them in neuron nets
and were set for the day
already knowing the only things i'd be catching would be
aspirin and zzzs
when champ smiling
and brandishing a netful of words
turned from the window
i waved ciao and stumbled back to bed
now when my mind’s in a knot
and nothing i’m thinking makes sense i remember those rooftops
the neverending river of words swimming just under the surface
and setting my net hope for a good catch
RC deWinter’s poetry is widely anthologized, notably in New York City Haiku (NY Times, 2/2017), easing the edges: a collection of everyday miracles, (Patrick Heath Public Library of Boerne, 11/2021) The Connecticut Shakespeare Festival Anthology (River Bend Bookshop Press, 12/2021), in print: 2River, Event, Gargoyle Magazine, Genre Urban Arts, the Minnesota Review, Night Picnic Journal, Plainsongs, Poetry South, Prairie Schooner, Southword, The Ogham Stone, Twelve Mile Review, Variant Literature, York Literary Review among many others, and appears in numerous online literary journals. RC can be found on Twitter.