Zumwalt Poems Online

Afternoon Off

Afternoon Off

Muscling for the right of way
With horn-blast exclamations
Traffic mutters its scat song score

The sun today
Like most days
Doesn’t shine postcard gold and honeyed
It glares
Through the inversion layer
A klieg light in a smoky cabaret
But
Just the same it warms
The square

Sprawled on the grass
Midtown midday characters in
Pershing’s street show
Young Chicanos scout for chicks
And advertise adolescence
Studied, casual, tough

Some shirtsleeve transient
Sporting scrimshaw arms
Scans a racing form
His shoe leather face focused more
On Santa Anita
Than the saints
Shouted, proclaimed
By an antique black
Whose white wisps of whiskers
Cling to his accusing chin
Clouds about a crag
That trembles with every thundered damnation
As the old man makes the park
His pulpit

Basking in my own insouciance
I consider
How best to consume the remainder of the day

Perhaps a saunter to the Biltmore
To grab a joe and watch for ghosts
Or a march upcountry to Bunker Hill
To glimpse the glass castles
Mercantile and magnificent
Then again
I might, like a rookie on the bench,
Sit attentive, listening
To the traffic
And the sermon
And see what happens
Next

— Zumwalt (ca. 1977)

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Comments on: "Afternoon Off" (14)

  1. Awesome perspective of observation! 🙂

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  2. This is tremendous!

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  3. I love the way you write , in a poem like this one you transport me to a park bench , in Boston or maybe Central park . I have been there( both) strange not my own Hyde Park well we don’t get the weather!! XX

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  4. Wonderful imagery.

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  5. awesome!

    http://tigergroves.wordpress.com/ (new address)

    please follow back-so I won’t miss a post!

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  6. I might, like a rookie on the bench,
    Sit attentive, listening
    To the traffic
    And the sermon
    And see what happens
    Next…. this is just great… i love to just sit on benches and listen to whatever…often the result is poetry…

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  7. poets astound me…so tuned in. beauty. continue…

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  8. You are such a great poet. Part of the reason for this is the creativity of your language: “Traffic mutters its scat song score.” Part of the reason are the ideas that seem to flow like an unimpeded stream:
    “The sun today
    Like most days
    Doesn’t shine postcard gold and honeyed
    It glares
    Through the inversion layer
    A klieg light in a smoky cabaret.”
    And part of the reason, the hardest part, is that in spite of the flashes of language and ideas, the poem is a poem, a unified whole that has one idea made up of subservient ideas and a unified style, and an emotion that strikes in the last lines:
    “I might, like a rookie on the bench,
    Sit attentive, listening
    To the traffic
    And the sermon
    And see what happens
    Next”
    with a sureness that summons up a particular day in a particular time in a particular place. Every time I spend time here I feel the magic.

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  9. Your imagery really puts a person right there, all the senses come alive.

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  10. I always get lost in your poetry…several ways (~_~)
    what could this be… how intriguing is that
    what a witty word wizard and painter of images with an abstract write you are

    Art~

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  11. amazing description. loved the picture it painted in mind.

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  12. “Doesn’t shine postcard gold and honeyed
    It glares” Amazing lines.

    And excellent imagery all round. Just like being on a street with a cavalcade of characters. It’s like Dylan’s Desolation Row. It’s wonderful poetry.

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  13. I love the imagery portray from each line, I love the flow of words it make me feel I’m there… love it…

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  14. This is a masterpiece!!! The images you’ve painted here from beginning to end are awesome! I could quote my favourites but there are too many. You put the reader right in the middle of it all. Love, love, love it!!! 🙂

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