Pamela Murray Winters


A month ago, I saw a photo and didn’t notice the horror.
It was the daily chaos of a shooting, this one at a parade:
cops, red lights, cocked barriers, fallen banners, ribbons.
Passing faces in profile. In a film, these extras
would emote more clearly, amplify the tragedy.
They can’t be read. I could blame them
for what I didn’t see in the foreground, dead center:
a human wound
and that’s all I’ll say.
There are things you can’t unsee!
Written whimsically under pictures
of the latest hated celeb gauchely sucking up pasta.
Hate is easy to play; even a bad actor can do it.
Harder is the ambiguity: the fine bone structure
of the terrorist’s face. He could have been a movie star.

Friday Night Cinema

There’s an organ grinder in Cat People,
the film the cat and I watched last night.
He passes the corner of the screen, soundlessly,
between the cinematographer and the actress and the panther.

He’s a fake. Pasadena hustler, knew someone biblically
who knew someone in the business. Ozark refugee
who looked Italian. Cat People carries menace
in every curve, the torn cloth, Chekhov’s statue

of King John with the upraised sword that never kills.
What grinds? Did the organ grind the monkey?
Was the monkey eaten by the panther? The actress?
The tunes never finish, they just end. Not a drop of blood.

Pamela Murray Winters writes and procrastinates in Bowie, Maryland. A graduate of the University of Maryland and the Vermont College of Fine Arts, she has received two Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist awards. Her first book, The Unbeckonable Bird, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2018, and her second is currently looking for a home. She enjoys losing at quizzes and winning at life.