Zumwalt Poems Online

Archive for the ‘Reader’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)

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)

Imperfect information

Imperfect information

You and I face off
with battleships on secret squares
sequentially taking pot shots wherever we chose.

A thin board separates our lines of sight
A thick carpet, underneath.

This is a sequential game
even when I attack out of turn
each and every move
is built on the one before.

Round after round
we proudly announce
a target square.

Sometimes we hit
Sometimes we miss
But never fail to attack.

Salvo, my friend
When you are most relaxed
and think all is calm waters.

As long as there are ships afloat
There will be missiles launched
across these now choppy seas.

Salvo, my friend
All shots at once
against our better judgment.

As long as there are missiles to launch
There will be ships targeted
aggravating these now choppy seas.

But once it is clear
there is some chance at sinking even one ship
We pull back,
bend the rules,
re-arrange our positions,
midway,
put some ships
in reserve,
deny any cease fire
and secretly fill out our battle reports.

-zumwalt (2011)

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

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)

Can’t Hide

Can’t Hide

With the last paycheck spent on camouflage,
focusing on a mindset made of mirrors,
I attempt to be an object
or better yet be none.

My clothes mimic the variegated prints of nature,
my face is painted much the same.
I stand in the wilderness far away from the Sheridan Square Stop
teaching my heart to copy the various pulses of the forest.

I once sacrificed:
my future and my past for my role in the now;
I once worshipped
fences and gates and directions pertaining to.

With each breath I inhale the cold message of shelter
holding in the truths and surface deceptions
creating a balance between conception and mirage,
accepting the difference between initiation and isolation.

Without the next paycheck
I worry what it means
to not be nothing,
to not be able to hide,
the actual point of submission to everything
being the same:
no distinction.

— Zumwalt (2011)

Your anonymous blog

Your anonymous blog

To my face you are kindness itself:
cheerful, always upbeat,

but in your anonymous blog
you rip me apart.

You press your thumb and forefinger on each side,
hold, pull and rend,
and rupture my very innards.

You focus on me,
my life, my words, my actions and my body
like you are a Celestron Telescope
searching for every single crater and irregularity.

With an Ultima Barlow lens
and your Leica M9 18MP
You grab each natural image
and then rearrange reality with
your precious, perversely pesuasive, periscopic Photoshop technique.

poetic liberty has leased you a license to assassinate,
humiliate,
decimate,
invalidate,
severely lambaste,
and mockingly castrate
everything that I identify as me.

literary freedom allows you to liberally fabricate,
mutilate,
denigrate,
incriminate,
scathingly castigate,
and maliciously urinate
on what others think of me.

To my face you are kind beyond selflessness,
but on your online beat,
your anonymous malevolence
sets you apart
from all the others
that have ever wanted
to write me up,
put me down,
and publish me out.

— Zumwalt (2011)

Something Bad

Something Bad

Something bad is coming
Worse than any Grand Funk Railroad Reunion Concert
Worse than watching a full episode of Meet the Kardashians
With all commercials included.

I not only have read about it
I can feel it
So much more bothersome than
Hay fever in May.

It’s the Universal Fender Bender
Havoc beyond compare
It’s Universal Affliction and Ruination
Heavyweight and high-profile kind of stuff.

This universe is dumb
So much stupider than the armadillos that get hit by my little Fiat
This universe is worse than any teen age driver
Not watching where it goes
Or what is coming down the road.

Ten to the ten to the ten to the ten and more universes out there
Outnumbering all the cable channels both regular and High Def
More numerous than all the cockroaches in all the cities on the East Coast
Going any which way they please
Not planning ahead
Or working with the AAA or the highway safety department

More universes than every single observation ever made by every single person
More than every single argument between all the married couples
In all countries
On all existing planets
In all existing galaxies.

Each time you think of a possible universe, it exists!
Unless we all stop thinking there will be more and more and more.

Each universe moving
Some fast
Some even faster
Some inches apart from each other
Concealed behind some hidden dimension
About to turn the corner at full speed.

There’s a collision
A crash
About to occur
Every universe distracted
As if they are texting away
Following their own set of laws
Without regard for any right of way.

There’s a smash-up coming up
Sooner than later
One universe piles into another
With one of those universes being ours in particular
The one that I live in.

I am scared
I know that adding a shoulder harness to my office chair
is not going to be enough.

I am terrified
I cannot figure out
as I make my last will and testament
who I can leave the house and dog to.

Today, tomorrow or maybe later
It is sure to happen
All my plans for no purpose
All my purposes to no point
I panic
Abandoning all my activities
Crawling into the attic
Taking a pen
A flashlight
And a notebook
And wondering
If there is any new thought
I can have that might make this all better
Without creating
One more
Damn reckless
Out-of-control
universe.

–Zumwalt (2011)

science delivers

science delivers

Some order off the menu
I fancy what I can fancy;

I imagine whatever I imagine
And science delivers.

Give me a
continually brined,
triple-hearted,
blue-blooded,
color-changing,
golden-pink,
cerulean-ringed
octopus
with drops of venom on the side
just enough to kill a full-grown gorilla.

Then I’ll try a portion of nearly translucent,
high-altitude,
streaky,
wispy,
cirrus clouds
made of hexagonal prismic plate crystals
converting sunlight
into a dazzling fire rainbow.

Follow that with hundreds of hyper-velocity stars
spit from the galaxy’s center,
millions of years ago
moving more than a million miles an hour
careening through a galaxy
that is held together by
cosmically-aged cold dark matter.

Top it all off with
various flavors of increasingly attractive quarks and anti-quarks:
up,
down,
charm,
strange,
top and
bottom
with various
spins,
color charges (red, green, blue),
masses,
and electric charge
assembled in
various palatable forms
from simple, garden variety protons and neutrons
to Sigma-sub-bees and Xi-sub-bees
to highly anticipated anti-matter anti-hypertritons.

Yep!,
I imagine what I imagine
and it’s just a matter of time
before science delivers.

What cannot be imagined
will not be.
What cannot be,
will not be imagined.

No price is too high
No wait is too long,
but clearly
being on good terms
with the head chef
ensures
some notable advantage.

-Zumwalt (2011)

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