November 8, 2011

Poets You Should Know -- MAX WINTER

Max Winter’s poems have appeared recently in Ploughshares, Volt, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. He has published reviews in The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Newsday.

Of Mr. Winter, the poet James Tate says:
Max Winter's poems operate in unpredictable ways. They sound as if controlled by some prevailing logic, and yet the reader is hurled forward, line by line, into unknown and unexpected worlds as the poems progress. They mutate seamlessly; they are awash in metaphor. Bold statements melt into one another, constantly changing their terms of play. A reader is tempted to ask, Is it a madman speaking? But no; upon closer examination, we see the reasoning process, however bizarre—the horseshoe turns, the breakaway ride from idea to idea. And yet nothing detracts from the wonder of it all. These are poems of great adventure and discovery, and not just for the reader, I suspect, but for the poet as well.

I say, read the following poem and understand why Max Winter is a POET YOU SHOULD KNOW.


I should help myself. My spirits are still asleep. My eggs have been cooked. Not in sunlight but in steam. When you remember me, be sure to note my high, intelligent forehead. My thoughts run from east to west. From cheek to cheek. I have begun to think visibility would be a good idea. This from someone whose contentment is exceeded only by the size and dark shade of his blinders. Let me have another piece of toast. Let me have a napkin. My habits at this hour run to sloppiness. Four out of five psychologists, scratching themselves through ratty underwear, testy at being awakened for a merely human question, report that sleep deprivation leads to unhappiness. But is it not true, doctors, that unhappiness and weariness are one and identical: weariness of trains, weariness of hardwood, weariness of October, weariness of gusts, weariness of baked apples, weariness of one's own sexual organs, weariness of Avenue A, weariness of bed, weariness of speaking to some ever-distant person? But I am not an unhappy man. I simply slept little and woke early. The reason was not you or I or it or them or we or me or his or theirs. Alice kept me awake, floating above me, a chiding ray in my autumnal forest. I chanted, "We live to love and love to live and love to live and live to love," but I could not achieve the stasis I needed. I needed. But that's bubbly in the topsoil. Let it fizz. Let me have another cup of coffee, now that you've peed. Your full thighs and urban smirk are almost enviable. Almost. I do not depart my heliport so easily these days. You see, I have other concerns. I am covered with hopping and unkillable green bugs. Or I must be. Not to complain. No one likes a complainer. But I've begun talking to the stars. They don't move around so much. They're optimists. And they've performed steadily for many years. Venus is my favorite. Venus, like night, is always available. And all of you who know me, all of you who think you know me, I'm never coming around here, never again, no more. Brando? And there goes the tram to Roosevelt Isle. When I was invisible, I thought spotting the train meant good luck. But at this point it means the ambassadors are going, home. The ambassadors have left. The ambassadors are no more. Alice brought me here and told me she didn't know me. That I felt nothing for her. I told her she wasn't watching, I felt things for her at every crosswalk, for every thinkable and unthinkable reason. And then her tongue in my ear. Where is that tongue? But more importantly, where is that ear? I must find that ear. I guess I should settle it up. Less of a tip than a transom through which my Generosity thoks on the counter like a letter that says "This will have to be the end of it all," and if you wake up crying in a cold water bath, who ever finds out? Ninety cents ought to do it. Okay, a dollar. And I leave you, Greeks, picking eggs from my molar. And I walk out. Oh, it's still dark. I turn to the right, and a little white light will lead me to my, blue, heaven.

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