Spring 1986, Volume 3

Sherwin W. Howard
The Death of Frederick Winter

Freddy Winter died last summer
Discovered three days gone, then buried
With stink still strong upon his sheets
While sun-burned farmers toiled uncaring
Night-tired from their ceaseless plantings
Merchants busily maintained their business
Selling back yard cook-outs, reclinered reruns
And children's dust dirtied heels
Raced August dreams and puberty
Oblivious to the death of poesy
Town poet, Freddy, to his friends
Lived alone above the mercantile
And wrote his verse on quiet nights
When strains of traffic rumbled
Out beyond the east canal
And left his tranquil room
With nothing else to do
But write or read old magazines again
Town poet, but when three rents had passed
Only Rachel Adams missed him
Miss Adams of the ripe pine pageants
Presented at the school each Christmas
Miss A., prodding parents, greeting neighbors
Proudly watching child performers
Dance, disharmonize, and blush becomingly
While family flashcubes
Burned bright images in albumed retinas
Freddy wrote the annual Christmas poem
Bachelor balladeer
He dined with Rachel each December
Read aloud his whimsied phrases
Recalled local incidents in rhyme
Edited slight hints of bawdy
And summoned in verse
The small town's soul
To stand revealed after popcorn
But before the lighting of the tree
And Santa's closing carols
Town tongues had one time paired the two
Insurance agent/poet
Plus sixth grade English marm
Seemed sufficient match
For gossips plotting faculties
But verse was all they had in mind
New year subtracted Freddy
Until the following pageant
Su Summoned poet to his line
At Rachel's dining room
Freddy wrote some other verse
He spoke of it at times
But none was published locally
Not on the Sunday Poets Page
And -so his only audience In town
Was restless Christmas crowd
Who waited Silent Might
And hoped him under-long for once
Applauding dutifully at art
But dreaming Christmas geese or
Carrot pudding's rich rum sauce
Last December 22, Saturday
The program went as it was wont
With carols, candies, squirming babes
Till poet's time, when Rachel rose
Face strained, and read
Not Freddy's homely chronicle
But Thomas' Child's Christmas ...
And after, people thought how nice it was
Sophisticated at last, one said
The town's grown up, another spoke
And every child in line received
A plastic Santa doll before the
left the hall
Cold dark smudged fog around new vapor lights
As late, the town tucked in
Grey Rachel sat, eyes wide with memory
Listening for poet's words that would not come
From snowy mound outside the town
Remembering old doggeral, past Christmases
The only soul who knew just what It meant
To have a poet die