Zumwalt Poems Online

Archive for the ‘1970s’ Category

as good as buried

as good as buried
so ball-drained
cause he has to have a chick
                             on the kick

a boomer today and a blow-out tomorrow
he thinks he’s a cool aviator
but it’s not so cool where he always ends up:

another piece of debris among floaters
and when he’s back on the ground
his gears are jammed

for the pleasure has turned to pain
and will remain
until another connection.

— Zumwalt (1974)

deleterious habitat

deleterious habitat

hot southern heat
  baking your alaska
the smog fills your
lungs like sand
                in a dersadrop humidifier

breathing is a function
  and we are approaching an asymptote

three toed sloths trek through the treptremanian soil

burning air and burning phylum
                    cough…
                                  cough…
                                                cough…

It is time to let me out.

— Zumwalt (1974)

might as well forget her

might as well forget her


she's
     dropped
            like a hot rock

pizza pipers peddling pieces of purposeful product
not at all like 
           lipstick, perfume, deodorants
                    and other such shallow items

cleatamenthate degarglycide throntine
it does me no good to say i miss her
                          i don't

and if I ever find myself missing her
              then something's missing in me

craters, black light, dew drops, frozen stages, 
         and a topping of dehydrated marshmallow sauce.

the world is full --
          it's full of fools

and common sense has vaporized
       like an ice cube on the sun.

— Zumwalt (1974)

40th Anniversary Post

US40_220

Not sure if it’s something to celebrate, though clearly an excuse to blog, 40 full years have passed since the first published Zumwalt poem, “Trilogy of the Oblique Carbide” appeared in the inaugural issue of GHLM, a low budget literary digest with a circulation of only slightly more than 500 copies.

In this deeply epistemological tribute to the bebop musicality of the beat generation poets, Zumwalt loads the existential bases with the three most essential questions: where does life come from, where does it go, and what is the meaning of life; hinting that the essence of life is eat, get eaten and reproduce.

In the next few months, it is our intent to cajole Zumwalt in releasing any unpublished poems from various dusty scrapbooks and coffee house napkins for initial presentation here at zumpoems.com. Until then here is a reprint of the first ever published Zumwalt poem.

TRILOGY OF THE OBLIQUE CARBIDE
 
I. Judge Crater Is No More 

Help!
There is a fandango up my nose;
   This is justice?
O ironic gods -- can they
Really repossess my pancreas?
And Black and Decker tread on the cosmic puddles
         URRRP!
 
II. Moira 

      My ravioli molded to day...
   The wispy green fuzz eating
Away the corrupted entrails of Alpha Beta 
         Ground sirloin.
Pathos.  Tragedy.  Tricanosis.
         Such is fate.
 
III.  Cry the beloved wingnut 

         Bladderwort lied.
Bigot!  And the hungry children cry 
   In their farina.  Would Rothschild give
Them Twinkies?  Ha!  Let them eat Spackling paste.
   Spush!  Time, the rain-bird, spews
Its indifference towards the continuum of OHM.

— Zumwalt (1973)

Solo

 Solo

Blinking away caffeine minutes
And hours
With the deli owls
Sparse and sporadic

Savoring the solitude
Of the urban predawn
I watch winter
Convoluted and crystal
Rush the window

The radio unloads
Heavy metal
High volume, howling
Then
Upturned chairs
           the busboy plays counterpoint
           on a Kirby

Purposeful sips
Premeditated
Prolong the leisure
Hunching over the cup
I feel my midnight independence hobbled
           by night’s loneliness
           yet, nonetheless,
Satisfying

— Zumwalt (19 Feb 1979, Washington, DC)

Nuit Blanche

Nuit Blanche

February’s snow buried midnight
And swallowed one a.m. in subsequent flurries
Monday’s second hour
Like one of Ilium’s layers
Ruined
Awaits its inexorable interment
Atop the wrecks of its predecessors

— Zumwalt (19 February 1979,Washington, DC)

Decline and Fall

Decline and Fall

Chilled and solitary
I feel the Fall
A season flickering
A time cooling
Summer’s dissolute heat and aureate fury
Quenched
In long shadows
Darkly déjà vu
Gibbon scents the dusk
Crisp disquiet
Suddenly
October has pierced the city
Like Alaric’s Goths
Rude and barbarous
Yet
In its gusty fury
Lustral

— Zumwalt (15 October 1979)

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)

Black with Sugar

Black with Sugar

Loam-dark
A mellow companion, rich
Whose waving vapors indicate
The only friendly warmth in this
Orange-and-yellow plastic always open Tabernacle

Silent on the Formica
Sweet Latin scents caress the senses
Softening
Blows from the nicotine grayness
And insipid ceiling-speak Muzak

Smooth and sepia
Spirals down the throat, wet, warm
For a moment attention drifts
From the bleary graveyard denizens
        the three-day growth denim jacket derelict
        the greasy ember of a cook
        the scrubbed behemoth cop
        A granite waitress

A quiet witness
To a melancholy 3:00 am solo
Outside
        the neon punches holes in the glacial black
        splaying stark pastels across the street’s lonely void
Inside
        Indifference frosts the electric décor
The mug is chipped
But its contents fight the chill and bring a
Welcome, wistful
Smile

— Zumwalt (1977)

Beach Café

Beach Café

Chiming glassware
Lusty laughter and liquid murmurs
Midsummer night in Balboa
In the dream-dark
Charcoal curls spiral from the tables
Writhing arabesque and rococo
Like nomads’ campfires.
Detached
Sphinx-like
From a darker corner enclave
I survey the scene sucking my mug of java
Black and bitter.
The bartender
Grins through a wizard’s beard
Pouring, mixing, performing
For the waterfront gentry
While a waitress weaves a winding honey dance
With ball bearing grace bearing trays of beers
Through the clustered tables.

The locals
Burned and blonde
Gleam polished keyboard smiles
Brandish biceps and exhibit cleavage
Perched like cheetahs poised for game.
Or, Heineken in hand, they prowl in puka shells
Floral shirts and sandals
Sporting the seashore regalia
And predatory as the alligators embroidered
Above their hearts.

My focus withdrawn
I study the brown pit of my cup
Embarrassed by my suppressed, cynical envy
And my incipient paunch
Which spills below my sternum and sits
Like Signal Hill
Above my belt.
I spin theories about Their intellect or character
Judging smugly
But knowing, too
That the judgment’s just jive
And petty consolation
For my social shortcomings
A shoring up of a shaky soul
Discomfited by the competition and the game.
So I stroke my moustache
That drooping display of virility
And stay stoic behind an Agamemnon mask
Listening to an Aegean known only to me
Aloof and passive
As a walrus on an offshore rock.

The band
Back from break and beer
Slide into the electric haze
Tune up with playful foreplay before performing
Then splash emotion in the whisky illumination
The bassist
Measures out time like a beating heart, while
The drummer—a clock—
Clips it off
As the sax man belies his horn’s brassy brilliance
And cries the blues.

Behind the dancing tobacco curtain
I am anchored at my corner table
Cloistered in a turtleneck and straight leg jeans
An anachronism looking
For an age to join.

— Zumwalt (1978)