Even The Dead Are Growing Old, by Don Winter, Working Stiff Press, 2012, is available at:
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Even The Dead Are Growing Old, but thankfully Don Winter has returned to the small press. After the publication of Saturday Night Desperate, a few years back, there were rumors that Don Winter was “off to discover a new path,” which made me feel like someone literally dropped a hammer off a roof onto my head. Maybe it is because my father was a roofer and when I read “Roofing,” I felt like homage was being paid to deserving hard working men who aren't spotlighted in literary work nearly as much as they should be. Whatever it was, I fell in love with Don's work and in November when I heard from Steve Henn, who helped co-edit Fight These Bastards and Platonic 3 Way Press with him, that he had a new collection coming out I was ecstatic.
When I asked Don about how Saturday Night Desperate was going to be his last book, he said, “By 2008 the whole thing had turned into this grinding, lifeless machine: the writing of poems, the editing of Fight These Bastards, the writing of reviews. I needed to stop all that. In the years since I've worked on a few poems, like someone might work on crossword puzzles, I guess. I wanted to share some of those with Fred Voss, with David Thompson, with Mr Locklin, and with others I'd known, and so I went to Dan and he was amenable to publishing Even the Dead...” (Dan being Dan Sheridan from Working Stiff Press)
Winter says crossword puzzles, I say these pieces are more complex a little more like Soduko. , “No Visitation,” demonstrates his respect for “the art form of brevity,” in seven, stark, lines.
The train twists through Michigan:
the yellow blur of farmhouses,
ribbon glimpse of rivers.
All night I keep arriving
in someone else's childhood.
And once a year you send
a postcard of his happiness.
Winter captures the nauseating movement of loss as well as the struggle to arrive at a resolution that doesn't exist. The limited communication is even more dismal when it arrives on a commercially printed card with space on one side for an address, a postage stamp, and a brief message. What is unsaid is much more powerful than what is said in this piece. I am not exactly sure what it means to spend the night, “arriving in someone else's childhood,” but this line has been with me for weeks now. Is Winter referring to an insomniatic night where the distance between the narrator and his son is twisting his thoughts and blurring his realities? Is the minimal communication, that is suppose to placate him, actually the catalyst for the pain? Am I reading into this too much, maybe yes, maybe no. Either which way, I believe the terseness in some of his pieces are thought provoking. This is also the case in another piece “My Aunt Bids the World Adieu,” where the body of the poem is only three words longer than the title and is actually a revealing quote.
My favorite pieces in the collection, “Breaking Down,” which also appeared in Saturday Night Desperate, juxtaposes a car and a relationship, both in the process of breaking down. In five short stanzas, Winter places the reader inside the car and the relationship, showing us how fleeting moments really are.
Night we split up,
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