Naked without his medals and ribbons,

he pinned them to his civilian suit

to display at a dinner party.

Out of the service,

spook of the first degree

for a commander-in-chief

that he despised

and desperate for the veneration

of young firm-bodied women,

he needed admiration

of desirable sycophants.

His life had been in the climbing

of the ladder toward the top,

stepping on the fingers of those

clutching the rings below him,

until he reached the last one

before the final step into the sky.

Instead, he marched into

the empty air

and fell to earth.

Hubris has its reverse rewards.






He wore a dark gray suit

with barely perceptible lighter stripes.

His coat was three buttons

with narrow lapels over a buttoned vest.

His shoes were black

and highly shined

although overlain with some dust

just on the pointed toes.

His poodle was newly clipped,

one could tell,

and walked in an aloof manner,

for a dog,

at the end of a white leather leash.

As they strolled on this path,

keeping carefully to the right,

as if on a highway,

neither the dog nor the man

looked up to catch the eye

of those walking by.

Watching the path pass beneath their feet,

they both were the picture

of manly and doggy decorum

and I wondered what they did

when poodle wished to urinate,

or (heavens!) to defecate.

How rude nature can be.

Of course, there was a plastic

bag attached to the leash.

There is a law,


and neither dog nor man

appeared a lawbreaker.

Civilization cannot be ignored,

nor appetite, digestion, piss and shit,

whatever the fashion

or the suit.



About the author:

Howard Winn’s  writing, both fiction and poetry, has been published by such journals as Galway Review (Ireland),Dalhousie Review, Descant (Canada), Chaffin Journal,  Borderlands,   Hiram Poetry Journal, New Verse News His B. A. is from Vassar College.  His M. A.  is from the writing program as Stanford University. He has done additional graduate work at the University of California San Francisco.  His doctoral work was done at N. Y. U. He has been a social worker in California where he also taught for three years and currently is a faculty member of SUNY as Professor of English.