Zumwalt Poems Online

Archive for the ‘Editor’s Choice’ Category

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)

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Full Circle (A rumination in 3 strokes)

Full Circle
(A rumination in 3 strokes)


Stroke the First – Dante’s Laugh

Another cycle eats its tail
	While you’ve killed time
	Hacking through a Frisco fog
And now you’re hit
	Like a mole in headlights
	Squinting
		At the fact
		A circle is endless
Welcome to Limbo
	That flag’s still out there
	Snapping, flapping
		And the crowd’s sweaty
Joke’s on you
Dante chuckles
	As you strap on your spikes
Man – Don’t you know?
	Gotta be hip
	To run with the damned.



Stroke the Second –Odyssean Oddity

In overdrive
Wheels greased
You’re GORGED
On road
But that ribbon is still stretched to the horizon
	A long licorice lane
	Tugged tenuous to…where?
Dream of flight
	(if you please)
Call it a runway
Call you a cab
They’re just
	Distorted digressions
	By a lightheaded cyclist
	Sailing through a sapped psyche
So split-S
And barrel roll
Down the desolate wind tunnel
Of the vortex of your cortex
You’ll soon discover
A midget aviator can still get wind-sheared
	Fast as you can shout mayday.
When the whitecoats eavesdrop
On your black box
	They’ll start
	To find
You never left the ground.



Stroke the Third – This one’s for you

So—
	Thought you’d spend Eternity
	(Well, maybe just a slice, thanks)
In a beer ad
Grabbing gusto
Well –
	You sucked
	Untold sudsy shadows down
Got your PR buzz
Time to check your itinerary
	When you do
	You’ll spot your spot
On a Mobius strip
Crazy coordinates on a hellish helix
	With nowhere to go
	And no way home
Not to worry
Once more around and
Once you grab that brass ring
You will realize
	It’s mostly air.

— Zumwalt (D.C. ca. 1982)

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)

propulsive retraction

propulsive retraction

because he retreats she goes after
now convinced that he is more than worthy of her
and when he approaches she retreats
certain that she would be accepting
less
than what she can get

she is unaware of how she is
pulled
and
pushed back and forth like
moonlit
tide of some California beach
she
is only aware of some vague confusion
and exasperation

in this marketplace you look carefully at weight and shape, knowing that
it is impossible to judge
content

in this marketplace you try not to keep a total of cost or the number of
items
taken of the shelf

she momentarily searches to say something
that she can later withdraw
she has aleady forgotten that it always pulls her
hardest
and head first.

— Zumwalt (1991)

They’ve Stripped the Forest for Babble

They’ve Stripped the Forest for Babble


Reams and reams
             The black-ink symbols innundate
             Flooding consciousness with printed words
                                          that possess
             Definitions but know no meaning
Tectonics, 
      Aardvarks, 
            political history of Byzantine hydraulics.
                        Dewey decimal has run rampant
                        Chasing, haunting, even lurking
                                  in the restroom
                        Parasitically clinging to the walls
 Stark and blatant waste or frivolous gaud
                        Venus dies --
                                   --                                          
                                   --    nonsensical nausea                       
                        The ice-age is returning
 

— Zumwalt (1974)

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