“Social Security” by Terence Winch
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
No one is safe. The streets are unsafe. Even in the safety zones, it's not safe. Even safe sex is not safe. Even things you lock up in a safe are not safe. Never deposit anything in a safe-deposit box, because it won't be safe there. Nobody is safe at home during baseball games anymore. At night I go around in the dark locking everything, returning a few minutes later to make sure I locked everything. It's not safe here. It's not safe and they know it. People get hurt using safety pins. It was not always this way. Long ago, everyone felt safe. Aristotle never felt danger. Herodotus felt danger only when Xerxes was around. Young women were afraid of wingèd dragons, but felt relaxed otherwise. Timotheus, however, was terrified of storms until he played one on the flute. After that, everyone was more afraid of him than of the violent west wind, which was fine with Timotheus. Euclid, full of music himself, believed only that there was safety in numbers.
from The Paris Review, Volume 42, Number 156, Fall 2001
The Paris Review
Copyright 2001 by Terence Winch.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of The Paris Review from The Paris Review. Copyright 2001 by James Lasdun. For further permissions information, contact Terence Winch, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, 202-287-2020 x191.
About the Poet
The son of Irish immigrants, poet, musician, and author Terence Winch (1945- ) was born in the Bronx, New York City. Winch is the author of seven poetry collections, including This Way Out, published (Hanging Loose Press, 2014).
Learn more about Terence Winch at The Poetry Foundation.