"Look around. This is the world without you in it." (a poem for you)

poems for the sound of the sky before thunder, my third book, has been receiving so many beautiful reviews recently—from Jeremy Mifsud: “Winters’ collection is both the storm and the silver lining. It starts out well and keeps getting stronger with each poem. … In these poems, I kept finding the reasons to standing back up and fighting, amidst all the pain.”

& from Sophie Falkenheim: “Winters does with words what no one else does. Boundless, elegant, somehow sharp and soft at the same time. I like to read poetry that has a kick to it, that leaves me feeling like I’ve been hit in the ribs sometimes. This book does just that. … I for one have no idea how Winters writes these—how they write with such depth and care dedicated to each one. It is, in fact, astounding. Worth a read. Worth several reads. Worth a home on your bookshelf.”

I thought I would share a poem from the book with you, a raw & aching little piece that still makes me tear up a bit to read today. This one was originally published in Chowing Fat, BooksActually’s blog, & I so hope it gives you what you need right now. If you don’t have your copy of PSST yet, you can pick yours up right here, featuring this poem & many more.

Thank you for your kind words, my loves. They mean everything, everything.

After You

This is how we define every day:
ringing phone & car ride home & film montage slowing.

& the music stopping. & moon
we point at only to realise you are not here to wonder with us.

Yearning, we call this,
the feeling full of swallowed distance.

Something has been stuck in our throats for a very long time.
Maybe we should have seen it coming, but we were too busy

waiting for you to pick up the phone.
Pick up the phone. Please.

A cherishing of things we previously had not seen.
Look, we want to say. Look at this. But you don’t look.

The night sighs itself over our bodies.
The phones ring themselves to sleep. The music dies down.

All of the words happen here.
We want more & more of everything, even though

it will not bring us back to the nothing you found.
There are so many ways freedom translates to loneliness.

Look around. This is the world without you in it.
The film still playing but no music in the background.

Somewhere, the ringing stops. Hey, you say.

"In the first life, it starts with overripe apples, cloying as sin." (a poem for you)

Hello from gorgeous Salzburg! This is a city of endless song & bountiful negative space. Also: very pleasing colour schemes. Period architecture. Cobblestones. Gastronomy. & etc., etc., etc. There’s more, of course, so many brilliant somethings I’m too tired or too young now to put a name to, but they are magnificent & lingering on my tongue & rewriting all my poems & all my knowings & what more, really, could I ever ask for. It’s only the second stop on my Europe tour & I already never want to leave this continent.

But first, a quick crackling little poem for you today, in between my various haltings & wanderings! This one travels far away from Salzburg, back to my childhood in chap-lipped suburbia: a piece about apples & moving surfaces, about knives & crawlspaces, about gods, girlhood, growing up. All these stories we tell ourselves that bring us back to life. It was originally published in Occulum (one of my favourite new literary journals today!) & I so hope you enjoy it. xoxo

Origin Story 

in the first life / it starts with overripe apples, cloying as sin // a sweet & gorgeous melting / eyes closed / hysterical laughter like radio static / sweetness scarring the back of my throat // my mother braids my hair in the morning before school / & gives me the tools to survive: / this is how you boil water / this is how you give someone the finger / these are the only two things you will ever need to know // as a child i recall my stomach must die before all else / this is the simplest story / & therefore the truest / a slice of unfinished apple pie on the table / a plastic fork / a metal knife // my mother drives me home & asks, her voice a landscape marred by sorrow, / what i learned in school today / her grief is the first soft thing i will ever touch // we exist in so many places that never bother to learn our names / but this house has a new nickname for me every day / a new beginning to my obituary / a new taste of suburbia to choke down / & kindness without ulterior motive // on the table, the apple pie aches to taste a tongue // my mother & i stand on the driveway, becoming // even now, in this framed beginning, / i am not a god / but i am a girl, at least // a girl / a time to exhale / a preplanned ghost town / a pot of boiling water // i turn down the radio / i fall asleep with cinnamon stuck in my mouth // in this place where my mother has forgotten how to cry / & it smells of evening / all afternoon

"In AP Environmental Science, my best friend speaks about sky & age & forests." (a poem for you)

Good morning, loves! I am in Jogja now, on a rather impulsive trip full to the brim with good coffee, brick walls, mellow afternoons, art museums, bubble baths. I am thinking about projects for 2019 & spending much time by the pool & celebrating Half Mystic Journal’s Issue VI release & eating lots of room service. It’s a good thing, floral & myth-stained. I think I needed this moment away, a breath of tenderness all to myself.

So pleased to be sharing a new poem with you today, one written quite a while ago now (my junior year of high school—AP environmental science seems like a foggy dreamscape now!) but only having found a home recently. “Species Interactions” was a birthday gift for my darling Tanvi Dutta Gupta, a longtime friend who documents her adventures up trees & at sea in stunning words & photographs on her blog. It was originally highly commended by the Ginkgo Prize For Ecopoetry; you can read the full anthology right here, featuring so many stunning pieces by fellow wonderers of the universe.

I do hope you enjoy this piece, my friends. Here’s to birdsong & skystuff & all the things that lie in-between. xx

Species Interactions
for Tanvi

In AP Environmental Science, my best friend speaks
about sky & age & forests. Shows me a photograph on
her computer of a bird she chased for an hour before
finally getting close enough to touch or shoot or love.
Look, the photo’s too blurry, she tells me, points out the fuzz
around the edges of the bird’s wings. I think it’s beautiful,
I say, & she tells me to shut up, & this is our love language,
this is our ecosystem dreaming into being. Today we’re
learning about solid waste & it’s so easy to lose myself in
hopeless, hearing about trash compactors & landfill seepage
& all these methods of coming closer to the end, but the
teacher passes around a wallet made of Capri-Sun wrappers,
tells us how green taxes are becoming more effective & that
our school just installed new solar panels on the roof, &
everything feels a little quieter. We watch a documentary
about air pollution. My friend fusses over her photograph
& I want to say shh, I want to say it’s perfect, but instead I
crumple up the empty soda can on my desk, throw it into
the recycling bin & not the trash. Outside the window
it’s monsoon season. The sky relearns the language of
eutrophication. The rain sings over everything, divides us
into individual parts. The birds sleep like saints, soundless
& infinite, like they trust the storm will pass soon,
like they don’t realise how it has only just begun.