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Oswald LeWinter

The Spear of Longinus

Time slips its leash and moves

into the garbage dump of memory

to hunt discoveries buried deep

under the detritus of a life hardly spent

in chewing each event to yield its marrow.


There lie the tattered shirts of feeling,

soiled from bloody spots of marriages

unmassaged by remorse at being cast away.

There the childrenís bears, stuffing

beaten out the day I left and never came again.


Cries may be insubstantial but dried tears

glisten like specks of crystal here

and there, assuming the disguise of silver

light that points the indefatigable glance

toward some obscure and necessary treasure.


I know the gilded spear is hidden there

that pierced a martyrís liver once, a wound

no healing ever sealed. I know from legends

how mystically, the organís blood congealed,

This spear cures festering guilt by penitence.


But like the Roman, chained by duty to an act

that changed his life, beset by wakefulness

so I might watch the night crawl through

the hours like a crippled thief who canít escape

his crime, I never understood my life.


I tried the spear! Uncovered each antinomy,

risked a near century of poems. Stripped suet

from my metaphors like a chef, preparing steak

for gourmet tongues. Nothing became clear.

The meat hid in a sauce too turbid for the spear.



Oswald LeWinter is a 72-year-old American poet living in Lisbon.  In 1963 he published Shakespeare in Europe while teaching at Columbia University.  He has also taught at the U. of Essen and at Wuerzburg, Chulalongkorn U. in Thailand, Jagiellonska U. of Cracow, Carabobo U. in Venezuela, and published in Shenandoah, Sewanee, Contact, the noble savage, Epoch, Hudson, Paris Review, Chelsea, the Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, Beloit, Botteghe Oscure, Kuerbiskern (Germany), and elsewhere.  His poems have been translated into French, Spanish, Italian and Swedish and he has been anthologized in several countries--such as Best Poems of 1962 in the U.S.A and Best German Poems.  Mr. LeWinter has been awarded a number of prizes, including the International Rilke Prize for poems in German and English.

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