Zumwalt Poems Online

Archive for the ‘B’ Category

Bull Market

Bull Market

The gardeners have hit the pavement,
Bulldozed by smiling engineers
Optimists—peddling bromides.

Take your pick:
        Withdraw your last fiver
        For a philosophic Wheel-O;
or,
        Hands in your pockets, sardonic
        Watch Babel climb.

“On this spot will be erected utopia”
        Yeah, sure.
        But, the wise man knows Penelope
        Has taken on Ithaca
        And counsels Odysseus to put his
        Money in Krugerrands.

        — Zumwalt (late 1980’s)

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)

The Sassoon Collection: iii. Blonde

The Sassoon Collection

iii. Blonde

Her head-weak thoughts that once eagerly gave way
to looks that leapt sure from eye to brain and into heart,
Weaving unconscious promises of love,
Are now thrust outward, dangerously heard from lips to air.
And he who has watched one world and loved it all,
Star-struck with blindness, an ensnared example for pity,
With feeble hopes of attracting a returning glance,
now listens with his ear to the rambling noise.

— Zumwalt (2011)

Copyright © 2011

Better Than

Better than

The land and water is haunted with beasts.
Some are carnivorous;
Some are microscopic;
None are smart like us
or entitled to dine at a good restaurant.

They think, we think, but differently.
None speak Mandarin or Cape York Pidgin English.
They have offspring and some care for their young,
Some eat their young,
But not a one makes contributions to a college fund.

I can wear them as hats, or mount them on my wall
But I can’t suffer this idea that they deserve representation in Congress.
I can grill them on coals, or tie them to my sled
But I won’t consider giving them my email address.

Evolution is a dusty and poorly mapped path
Nonetheless, it does not cross upon itself
And head back many miles
So that one easily confuses the end with its beginning.

It doesn’t jump from amoebas to mudfish and then back down to insects
then jump up to chimpanzees, over to worms and across to chihuahuas.

It progresses steadily, more or less,
from moss to shrimp to clown fish
to red-legged frog to crocodile
and then on to penguin or duck,
next visiting the platypus,
on to rabbits and rats
and terriers and tigers,
or lemurs and monkeys
and gibbons, gorillas,
bonobos, and our friends next door,
the Millers.

At the top are we,
and granted certain privilege and priority.
We can extend our parking lots
and re-engineer the best sun-bathing spots.

At the peak are we
with our rhubarb pie and peach-ginger iced tea.
We have power of attorney to set fires to ancient trees
and reclaim land from the South China Sea.

The air and ocean is haunted with creatures.
Some are carnivorous;
Some are microscopic;
None should have free trespass without our permission.

We should put up security gates
And start up detailed dossiers.
Every genus should have a dedicated database;
Every species captured in a redundant set of disk arrays.

They may think that we think they are not much different than we
But none speak Mandarin, Hindi, Hungarian or Burmese.
They have offspring so that their lineage continues on
But that’s up to us and little to do with them.

We may not hang on.
We are a destructive bunch
With a vicious knock-out punch.

We may not survive the dawn,
but if we do manage to last
and hold on as the entitled upper class
they need to take note
most carefully
that we not only own all we buy, lease or see
but in the end,
we can certainly ensure
that none of them,
aggressively,
or at their leisure,
pass us
on any given branch
of the post-Darwinian,
well-groomed,
often pruned,
evolutionary
tree.

— Zumwalt (2011)

Copyright © 2011

(Reposted by request of Monica)

The Sassoon Collection: iv. Butter and Eggs

The Sassoon Collection

iv. Butter and eggs

Robust diners, deftly forking in the fat.
O no longer living triglycerides against the heedless tongue
Of buffet and banquet days, what sends them gliding through
This set of dancing teeth?

Theirs are the hungry cadences between
The enraptured chewing of hefty humans that make
Heaven in the booth while second helpings simmer;
And theirs the faintest whispers that hush the desire.

And they are as a released soul that wings its way
Out of the starlit dimness above the moon
And they are the largest beings — born
To know but this, the phantom glare of fullness.

— Zumwalt (2011)

Copyright © 2011

The ball is in our courts

The ball is in our courts

The shirts press the skins
looking for the turnover.

The skins set screens to break the press
and force overtime.

The two teams play
without arena staff,
relying on unknown referees,
the crowd locked out of the building.

It is a territorial sport
that knows no season
and cares little about the ticking of the clock.

It is a rich person’s sport
like shooting barasingha
or showering with Krug champagne.

Would my boss keep me from working
if I refuse a multi-million dollar contract
and fifty-fifty revenue sharing?

Would I be laughed at
if I asked for vacation from May
through September
with October for retraining?

It’s not so much that I worry
about the players or the owners
it’s more about the lost life-risking excavating opportunities
for the mal-nourished children of Sierra Leone and Angola
as demand for diamonds by the NBA elite precipitously declines.

It’s not so much that I worry
about lost revenue for TNT and ESPN —
it’s whether this ultimately means
that Superbowl pregame coverage starts around St. Patrick’s Day.

Nonetheless, I am patient:
I can do without annoying puppet commercials
and twenty-seven-attempts slam dunk contests,

but I have one question
is it much of a game
when it’s not the players,
not the owners
that lose their shirts
but only the arena employees and nearby small business blue-collar workers?

— Zumwalt 2011

Better than

Better than

The land and water is haunted with beasts.
Some are carnivorous;
Some are microscopic;
None are smart like us
or entitled to dine at a good restaurant.

They think, we think, but differently.
None speak Mandarin or Cape York Pidgin English.
They have offspring and some care for their young,
Some eat their young,
But not a one makes contributions to a college fund.

I can wear them as hats, or mount them on my wall
But I can’t suffer this idea that they deserve representation in Congress.
I can grill them on coals, or tie them to my sled
But I won’t consider giving them my email address.

Evolution is a dusty and poorly mapped path
Nonetheless, it does not cross upon itself
And head back many miles
So that one easily confuses the end with its beginning.

It doesn’t jump from amoebas to mudfish and then back down to insects
then jump up to chimpanzees, over to worms and across to chihuahuas.

It progresses steadily, more or less,
from moss to shrimp to clown fish
to red-legged frog to crocodile
and then on to penguin or duck,
next visiting the platypus,
on to rabbits and rats
and terriers and tigers,
or lemurs and monkeys
and gibbons, gorillas,
bonobos, and our friends next door,
the Millers.

At the top are we,
and granted certain privilege and priority.
We can extend our parking lots
and re-engineer the best sun-bathing spots.

At the peak are we
with our rhubarb pie and peach-ginger iced tea.
We have power of attorney to set fires to ancient trees
and reclaim land from the South China Sea.

The air and ocean is haunted with creatures.
Some are carniverous;
Some are microscopic;
None should have free trespass without our permission.

We should put up security gates
And start up detailed dossiers.
Every genus should have a dedicated database;
Every species captured in a redundant set of disk arrays.

They may think that we think they are not much different than we
But none speak Mandarin, Hindi, Hungarian or Burmese.
They have offspring so that their lineage continues on
But that’s up to us and little to do with them.

We may not hang on.
We are a destructive bunch
With a vicious knock-out punch.

We may not survive the dawn,
but if we do manage to last
and hold on as the entitled upper class
they need to take note
most carefully
that we not only own all we buy, lease or see
but in the end,
we can certainly ensure
that none of them,
aggressively,
or at their leisure,
pass us
on any given branch
of the post-Darwinian,
well groomed,
often pruned,
evolutionary
tree.

— Zumwalt (2011)

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