Zumwalt Poems Online

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Two Decade Hangover

Two Decade Hangover

An oscillating madness
Like the twenty-year howl
Of impotent hyenas—
Shrill
Shrieking
Schlock—
Blows the encumbering cobwebs
And reveals the
Fundamental dry rot.
Crewcuts
Brylcream
Primal chords
Jerk the memories and mores
Back to the visceral
Atavistic anarchy
Spotlighting Spengler
             As an optimist.

— Zumwalt (1981)

40th Anniversary Post

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Not sure if it’s something to celebrate, though clearly an excuse to blog, 40 full years have passed since the first published Zumwalt poem, “Trilogy of the Oblique Carbide” appeared in the inaugural issue of GHLM, a low budget literary digest with a circulation of only slightly more than 500 copies.

In this deeply epistemological tribute to the bebop musicality of the beat generation poets, Zumwalt loads the existential bases with the three most essential questions: where does life come from, where does it go, and what is the meaning of life; hinting that the essence of life is eat, get eaten and reproduce.

In the next few months, it is our intent to cajole Zumwalt in releasing any unpublished poems from various dusty scrapbooks and coffee house napkins for initial presentation here at zumpoems.com. Until then here is a reprint of the first ever published Zumwalt poem.

TRILOGY OF THE OBLIQUE CARBIDE
 
I. Judge Crater Is No More 

Help!
There is a fandango up my nose;
   This is justice?
O ironic gods -- can they
Really repossess my pancreas?
And Black and Decker tread on the cosmic puddles
         URRRP!
 
II. Moira 

      My ravioli molded to day...
   The wispy green fuzz eating
Away the corrupted entrails of Alpha Beta 
         Ground sirloin.
Pathos.  Tragedy.  Tricanosis.
         Such is fate.
 
III.  Cry the beloved wingnut 

         Bladderwort lied.
Bigot!  And the hungry children cry 
   In their farina.  Would Rothschild give
Them Twinkies?  Ha!  Let them eat Spackling paste.
   Spush!  Time, the rain-bird, spews
Its indifference towards the continuum of OHM.

— Zumwalt (1973)

The Sassoon Collection

The Sassoon Collection

i. Everyone sang while I fell asleep

voices wailing around the house
thud of feet and slam of doors
everyone singing
only the clocks wind down

around this small room
no sense of the hour
crowded with lemonade breath
high-pitched voices like hounds in pain
as clouds hover over my eyes

fighting sleep with the fork from my dessert plate
not yet ready to go where the dreams are built
where you take reality with you so as not to be alone
dragging it by its rough cotton shirt collar

the sweet faces become sweet voices
despite the liberty with so many of the notes
the lights descend and take colors
whirling into a vortex that kicks out dimensions
like KTEL reissuing fragments from the past

falling asleep
the hounds now cooing like herons drugged by too many Hershey bars
the darkness becoming home (but without any furnishings)
everything fading into peace
except for one small lingering concern
for everything unfinished

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.

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.

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.

v. Auto Tunes

I keep such music in my car
No din this side of death can quell;
Deep bass booming over tar,
And excess forged in death-metal hell.

My dreaming demons will not hear
The roar of guns that would destroy
My life that no gleeful gloom can fear
Proud-surging passages of painful joy.

To the world’s end I drove, and found
Death in his carnival of hidden stash;
But in this torrent I was drowned,
And music screeched above
the fiendishly beatific
headlight-lit
fiber-glass,
glittering, splintering,
metalliferous crash.

vi. The imperfect cook

I never ordered something to be perfect,
Though often I’ve asked for fiery spicy or without sugar as a small invasion
Of mastering cooking.

I never asked that your dishes
Might stand, unburnt, moist and savory
Pointing the way toward gastronomical peaks like a sign-post.

Oh yes, I know the way to the heart is easy.
We found the little menu of our passion
That all can share who walk the road of gourmands.
In wild and succulent feasting we stumbled;
And sweet, sour, bitter, salty and spicy senses.

But I’ve grown sated now. And you have lost
Your early-morning freshness of surprise
At creating new dishes.  You’ve learned to fear
The gloomy, stricken places in my stomach
And the occasional indigestion that haunts me later.

You made me fat; and I can still return
for seconds, the haven of my lonely pride:
But I am sworn to partake of variety
the blossom from invention and disparate exploration
And there shall be no follow-up in a failure;
Since, if we ate like beasts, the plates are clean
And I’ll not redirect portions of portions to pets under the table.

You dream endless assemblies of culinary masterpieces
Yet, in my heart, I dread average results
But, should you grow to hate my critiques, I would ask
No mercy from your feelings. I’d have you turn from the stove
And look me in the eyes, and laugh, and suggest take-out.

Then I should know, at least, that taste prevailed
Though flavor had died of wounds. And you could leave me
unfamished in an atmosphere of ongoing appetite.

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.

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.

ix. Fight to our Finish

The bums came back.  Pundits played and bites were flying.
The yearning journalists threshed the backlit words
To trash the bickering brutes who’d refrained from agreeing
And hear the shuffled music of fizzled-out accords.
Of all the waste and nonsense they have brought
This moment is the lowest. (So we thought.)

Thumbing their noses to spite the other aisle
Shunning those that broke ranks with thoughts of a deal,
Making all attempts at representing utterly futile.

* * * * * *

I heard the yammering journalists grunt and squeal;
And with their trusting viewers turned and went
To rid us all of those who brazenly overspent.

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.

Copyright © 2011

compulsive

compulsive

serious itching

— Zumwalt(2012)

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 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

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

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