Zumwalt Poems Online

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A poem without

a title

rhyme

meter

or proper punctuation

— Zumwalt (2012)

A title without a poem


 

— Zumwalt (2012)

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)

The Sassoon Collection: x. Particle Show

The Sassoon Collection

x. Particle Show

AND still they come and go: and this is all I know—
That from the mind I watch an endless particle-show,
Where wild and listless forces flicker on their way,
With charged and uncharged parts from small stringy strands
Because all spin so fast, and they’ve no place to stay
Beyond the frozen image of imagined lands.

And still, between the shadow and the image made,
The first desire of all of us flings onward, ever betrayed
As in those stimulant years that weight them, and have passed:
All minds must grasp these particles dancing much too fast.

– Zumwalt (2011)

Copyright © 2011

The Handcuff King

The Handcuff King

Escape pays for now:
suspend me upside down;
lock glass and steel;
fill fully;
water flowing over.

But if my escapes entertains,
understand that it is my existence.
I can handle building-size milk cans, Chinese water torture cells,
underwater crates and being buried alive.

Faced with flight or forced-fight,
the choice is easy
but understand I must force fight to flee:
no escape is without struggle.

But without escape or the opportunity of one,
I must hang on
and for how long?

Until I burst?

Or until I meet the next world:
the destiny of all that depart?

Explain to me the retreat available:
the extrication that sidesteps;
the evasion that slips the lock,
that springs a liberation.

No,  you know no more than I about withdrawal.
You just know more about staying the course
and that won’t help much
when I need to leave, not the visage of death,
but death itself
and its closely shrouded, tightly bound design.

— Zumwalt (2011)

what soul is not besieged

what soul is not besieged

what soul is not besieged by rotten eggs and soft tomatoes
by answers unreturned and questions unsent
by minutes that make up hours and hours
           that tear down the day

what mind is not put upon and
           once put upon
                           cast off into a corner
what body is not battered and
                   beaten by the blows it shields
itself from

what soul is not bombarded
         by twenty-two gauge shot and mortar fire
by unresolved cadential patterns
         that whine around the head

by invalidation of beliefs and
         of what one has seen and sensed

there is reason to suspect that one can grow
if only the rainy season didn’t last
                                                       the entire year.

—  Zumwalt (1991)

The Sassoon Collection: ii. A pickle and a black hole

The Sassoon Collection

ii. A pickle and a black hole

Mass and form had the pickle, sweet, sour, tall and straight;
The round black hole collapsing still further then it knew
Made its longest shadow with gravity
A ghostly bridge ’twixt the pickle and space.
But stars, with their continuous day, must pass;
And blustering winds will stretch all gherkins
to which I’ve no measurements to express
the moment of conjunction,
a singularity with no exit
for stars and pickled cucumbers alike.

— Zumwalt (2011)

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