by Howard Winn   BUTTON COLLECTIONBringing order to our mother’s house,
as she sat in her rocking chair
watching a daytime television program,
my sister threw out old candy boxes
containing buttons hoarded
from at least sixty years.
They sounded like shaken gourds
as they went into the trash;
although not in Caribbean rhythm.
Snipped from worn clothes
in a mild fever of saving,
these buttons were of all sizes,
shapes and colors, buttoning down
the past even when occasionally
reused in the present.
They might come in handy,
my mother used to say,
and waste not want not.
I think that she just loved
the myriad colors, shapes,
the quantities, the weight ,
the implicit histories,
the textures of enclosure.   INFLUENCENeutral studies indicate that success
comes most often if you are tall,
six feet is a minimum,
if one is a believer in statistics,
and pretty, or handsome,
when male,
in the most conventional fashion.
Short or ugly? Or both?
Look for happiness in other ways.
Of course, if you have the aforementioned
characteristics of height and beauty,
the sky is the limit.
Even intelligence or stupidity
will not stand in your way.
if you play your cards well.
Political triumph may follow
commercial success,
or vice versa.
Money and fame will flow your way
when you are adept enough
to pose properly,
say little that is not common cliché,
and put your money in off-shore banks,
as yet unknown to the IRS,
if that is still possible.
it would be of incalculable benefit,
if you were a born psychopath,
wearing the mask of humane sanity.
One percent of the population
shares that happy condition,
so your odds are poor,
but, hey, you never know what your
genes might provide.
Check your parents.  
in extraterrestrials
in God
in America
at the moment
when polled.
who will
the final
flying saucer
on that day
The day the mortal life vanishes
for eternal good health?
If there
is one?
And what if
neither faith is
No one will return
with the news.   CLEARANCE SALEBuy a governor from our overstock jumble sale.
They can be had at a markdown of a
few million per gov,
but hurry since some are under indictment
and the sell-by date is fast approaching.
There is still time to arrange a tasteful
gerrymandering preparation to suit every palate
and pocket book although the purchase
may have to include a few state senators
as a side dish or antipasto before the main meal,
since the bill of fare is not a la carte for the special
but  a table d’hôte menu.
Hurry in to the governors’  bistro.
It is not meant for just anyone with desires or needs,
but for those special people with champagne taste
and the investments to match.   THE SUICIDE NEXT DOORHe has passed on,
she said,
dead being a word forbidden
to her lips
Bleed to death right in
the bathtub.
She shuddered
as she vomited those words
Who would have guessed?
Three police cars,
a fire truck
and one ambulance clogged
the private way
as people excluded from the house
paced and hugged.
Passed on.
How about passed over?
What would the obituary say?
The woman in the house,
his live-lover
staying the night again,
seemed to have slept through it all.
Now she treads the driveway in tight circles
when not held by friends.
The medical examiner must come
for it to be made official, 
and then the hearse,
the plastic body bag,
the evacuation of the black vehicles
with the uniformed stunned
young representatives of the law.
A cat is forgotten, left behind for the SPCA.
No reasons are acknowledged
in the death notice of the local newspaper.
Maybe a lovers’ quarrel.
As with that illicit word – DEAD–
reasons remain unspoken by those who know,
if they do.
Life gone bad is enough to know.
No one wanted the cat. 
Unloved?                                                          About the Author:Howard Winn’s writing has appeared in Xavier Review, Southern Humanities Review, Long Story, Galway Review, Antigonish Review, Blueline, and Evening Street. His novel, “Acropolis” was recently published. His academic study was at Vassar, Stanford, and N. Y. U. He is Professor of English at SUNY.