Zumwalt Poems Online

Archive for the ‘M’ Category

my dog got published

my dog got published

after many rejections,
Fido made the big time
with thoughts bound in leather
and royalties galore

food once from cans
now Fido dines in Cannes
jettsetting with Riveria rovers
and roveresses

Our cat hacks away
writing a blog that no one reads
adding a new entry every time
she gets tired of tangling yarn

The unexamined bone is not worth burying
Discover more by playing than behaving
Chase only the car that cannot be caught

Write about what you know, we tell our cat,
but cats are stubborn
and don’t take to guidance or suggestions

Fido made the big time
and the big time made Fido
to the point that Fido
is at the whistle and call
of his reputation

Fido eats well, but now waddles as he walks the walk
that all celebrated dogs must be led down

Spare the rug, spoil the carpet
You miss one hundred percent of the hydrants you never stop at
Some slippers are to be tasted and a few chewed and digested

He who barks last barks loudest
He who bites first bites longest
He who backs away, fights off fleas another day

This is our cat on the keys
typing into the electronic void
and on top of it all
living the life.

— Zumwalt (2011)

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mental block

mental block

spiraling parapet spinning passages
sweeping the bleakness
clouds sail skimming the
gravy scum of lifetimes of labor.

I know
of what you go
and where you want
but pretense
the avenger of moonglow
cries out against all that is anguished

and taps on the counter
like the frozen ballerina
on the shoulders of your shoelace.

— Zumwalt (1980s)

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)

The Sassoon Collection: viii. Middle Age

The Sassoon Collection

viii. Middle Age

I heard a creak, and a groan
And felt a twinge of wooden pain
A man running in a crowd
Deep in its shadow he moved.
‘Ugly work!’ thought I,
Gasping for breath.
‘Time must be cruel and proud,
‘Tearing down this body.’

With gutsy glimmering shone
my dignity as the wind grew colder.
This aging man jogs over the hill,
Bent to make the grade
‘There is no gain without further pain’…
Sluggishly passing the trees.
Aches in the joints were shrill,
As unmeasured steps sank into the hard asphalt.

— Zumwalt (2011)

Copyright © 2011

Message to Ida Straus

Message to Ida Straus

Don’t ask me where —
send her this message
and do more than that:
get a reply.

What happens after the wave takes you off the deck chair
and the water floods your senses
freezing your skin, bones
filling up your lungs
topping them off for the long journey?

Where do you go?

How do you go?

What unexpected toll roads demand offerings?

Must you give?
Do you give?
And if so, what?

Are you totally passive as
you are guided (or perhaps coerced, kidnapped?) and taken far away

Or is there
far,
close,
up,
down,
across
or even left and right spin?

Does space and time collapse, dissipate, solidify
or
are they a porthole,
barrier or,
maybe along with energy,
exposed outright as some new media hoax?

Tell me Ida.
Please.

Are you in heaven?
Are you suffering for your sins or another’s?
Have you seen an afterlife, a next life — maybe two or three?

If so, is it on Earth — or in a mildly warm pool under the frozen surface
of one of those strange moons of Saturn?

Do you have two legs, seven or sixty-four?

Do you live in our universe?
Or maybe another one?
One that expanded a trillionth of one percent faster
or a billionth of one percent slower
or that has rules so different that I must allow that
getting a message to you is harder than getting one to Garcia?

Take that immediately to her
and get a reply.
Don’t ask for overtime,
guidance
or extension of in-network physician coverage.

Anything you need —
just build, figure out, make happen —
but get results

and when you come back,
all that you have learned
is the property of your employer.

And in return
you will be in line for promotion
or, depending on the whim of others, mentoring someone else.

– – Zumwalt (2011)

Copyright © 2011

The Sassoon Collection: vii. The Manager

The Sassoon Collection

vii. The Manager

‘Good-morning; good-morning!’ the well-rested manager said
When we worked through the night to finish on time
the urgent assignment he failed to review and release
until late afternoon.

And we mock his insincerity as a matter of routine:
‘I work for you’, ‘What can I do to help you finish this sooner?’
As our stomachs growl from the coffee machine brew
But nonetheless still polite to his face
since by his judgment alone is our performance scored.

— Zumwalt (2011)

manic defensive

manic defensive

you increasingly tax yourself
draining resources
to protect against countries not yet on any map
increasing the deficit
inadvertently but effectively inhibiting productivity

you increasingly ask yourself
about potential dangers
unseen, unheard, and unimagined
escalating this monologue
extending your enclosure
inappropriately but efficiently prohibiting new activity

this enemy is inescapable
indefensible
inexhaustible

this enemy is indefinable
inexplainable
incomprehensible
indescribable

we watch where once was wonder
now
is preemptive concern
we watch where once was welcome
now
is just an overly aggressive strategy
to avoid getting irreparably burned

you build a war-head-woven, awkwardly weaponed wall that uses every available resource
to protect against inadvertent encroachment
or accidental contact

you endlessly engineer an increasingly entangled, enemy-engaging entrapment
that escalates every single skirmish into another world war.

this enemy is exactly
as you imagine

this enemy is kept alive
by every single missile that is manufactured for your future use

you say it’s time to end this all
either by self-destruction or surrender
you understand that victory is not a condition
only just the irreversible promise of more bloodshed yet to come

–Zumwalt (2011)