Zumwalt Poems Online

Archive for the ‘T’ Category

The ball is in our courts

The ball is in our courts

The shirts press the skins
looking for the turnover.

The skins set screens to break the press
and force overtime.

The two teams play
without arena staff,
relying on unknown referees,
the crowd locked out of the building.

It is a territorial sport
that knows no season
and cares little about the ticking of the clock.

It is a rich person’s sport
like shooting barasingha
or showering with Krug champagne.

Would my boss keep me from working
if I refuse a multi-million dollar contract
and fifty-fifty revenue sharing?

Would I be laughed at
if I asked for vacation from May
through September
with October for retraining?

It’s not so much that I worry
about the players or the owners
it’s more about the lost life-risking excavating opportunities
for the mal-nourished children of Sierra Leone and Angola
as demand for diamonds by the NBA elite precipitously declines.

It’s not so much that I worry
about lost revenue for TNT and ESPN —
it’s whether this ultimately means
that Superbowl pregame coverage starts around St. Patrick’s Day.

Nonetheless, I am patient:
I can do without annoying puppet commercials
and twenty-seven-attempts slam dunk contests,

but I have one question
is it much of a game
when it’s not the players,
not the owners
that lose their shirts
but only the arena employees and nearby small business blue-collar workers?

— Zumwalt 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)

There is no “i” in Phalanx

There is no “i” in Phalanx

Across calescent karstic plains,
attentive, observant, at walking pace,
searching
for a more than suitable place
to play these noble and momentous games,

purposely, resolutely stopping at this very ground
we converge and then assemble in formation
deliberately
aligning and establishing our corresponding location
shields brought up and eyes directed all around.

There is no certified start to victory.
There is no established end to self-defeat.
There is no single push that doesn’t come down to shove,
after which we hold, advance or consider our retreat.

The battle starts and shields meet shields
as outer layer on outer layer peels off and drops;
advancing
forward with counter-jabs and counter-blocks,
the winning forces shed more blood as the losing army yields.

There is no I in Phalanx.
There is no me in attack.
There is no volition in my ammunition
but there is no heading back.

As victor forces scatter defeated ranks
fallen bodies insist on being active players
incidentally
tripping up their remaining slayers
prolonging this conflict with mutilated arms, twisted torsos and lifeless shanks.

There may be stop but there is no end
and some sense of quiet but never peace.
There is some faint attempt to circumvent
but there is no means to cease.

And two thousand years later
archeologists dig for artifacts
and scour the settled ground
in which is conceivably found
the trace of the last impact.

This is what was left behind
and not much more
but then, what will be left again
when two thousand more years occur
and someone else digs around
excavating some hint of a sign
of those that previously searched these dusty mounds?

At some future moment this is all totally untraceable,
the conclusion of which is particularly inescapable:
no matter the plan or materiel,
all efforts are unavoidably replaceable
but much more to the point,
everything,
chalked up or not,
is ultimately and permanently erasable.

— Zumwalt (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)

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)

The Sassoon Collection: v. Auto Tunes

The Sassoon Collection

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.

— Zumwalt (2011)

Trade

Trade

It’s a fair trade.
Food for fuel.

Convert all our corn.
Add the amylase enzyme gene.
Food for fuel.

It’s a fair trade.
Forests for Food.

Switch soya for corn.
Make Brazil a giant farm.
Forests for Food.

Prices are right for fuel and food.
Step up production:
More fuel, more carbon in the air;
More food, less trees, more carbon in our lungs.

Rising Global Temperatures are ripe to drive up prices.
Droughts increase water’s premium
Aquifers get depleted.
Water becomes even scarcer.
Food prices rise.

Little Johnny wants to make money.
How can he not help to do so?
Invest in food and pollute at the same time.
Easy money.
Pollute on a small scale:
Pocket change.
Pollute on a large scale:
Wealth beyond dreams.

Rising Temperatures,
Erratic Weather,
Population Growth,
Scarce Water Resources,
Civil Unrest
All put stress on
Food supplies.

Now Johnny has to work harder.
He burns the midnight oil.
And makes more money.

Cattle, Sheep and Goats
Make deserts out of grasslands.
Tractors, Freight Trucks and Commuters
Make hazardous waste the speciality in trade.

But it’s a fair trade.
Quality of Life for Quantity of Life.

It’s a reasonable trade.
More humans for less plants and animals.

We will switch the future for the present.
Make our Dreams a Giant Dustbowl.
Swap future prospects for a bite to eat.

Principles are right for the harvesting.
Let’s step up consumption:
More fuel, more carbon in our air;
More food, less trees, more carbon in the lungs.

It’s a good honest trade.
I can write away the guilt.
Put my complaints down on some message board
And feel just a little better
As everyone increasingly feels worse.

— Zumwalt (2011)

The irreplaceble moment

The irreplaceble moment

We passed a law that two things
must not occupy the same space
                           at the same time.

There were some dissenting votes
and much discussion about how to enforce.
Our representatives had to think of the interests of the constituents mainly,
which, in this case, coincided with the interests of the consituent assembly.

We, the people, needed to have a nice place to live.
We evicted the indigenous
making them all indigent
and our leaders sometimes evicted us
as a matter of common sense and expedience.

We, needed a way to move from place to place.
Metal mines swallowed eco-lifelines,
oil sputtered and splattered
coating the coast
from sea to shining sea.

We, needed something to eat.
Food replaced foul-tasting pests
with the help of
magical chemical tricks.
The fumes were awful
confining us to hospitals.
The country became prosperous
as the food became murderous.

My chainsaw spins and thus once again
repels all like things from its space.
It must create to destroy and destroy to create
following the inviolate rules of time and place.

My friends all slash and burn the best they can.
They may displace,
efface and even disgracefully debase nature’s very own birthplace
but it’s all to simply appropriate our formerly shared estate
and establish
through each on-demand phase of
tactically-driven blaze, graze and industrial haze their
own personal haste-makes-waste
state-of-the-art ahead-of-the-pace
deadly-embrace-the-human-race
monetarily-based
technically-graced
profit-making showcase/workplace.

Yes, our life may be just a moment but
the damage we do by being a bit too clever lasts forever.

— Zumwalt (2011)

The last party (Trivial Pursuit)

The last party
(Trivial Pursuit)

She was in the room glowing
a smile on her face
she should have talked to me
or looked at me

Her boyfriend sat across from her
like a cardboard cutout
he should have been alive
or at least awake

another room awaits
autonomous
bordered by sounds
of new wave existence

friends reach out
alcohol people
a swirl of support
a backdrop of goodness

yellow light flickers
orange perfume clusters about
purple music masks the crowded voices

the little dog scurries
moves with short stubby legs
strawberries sit too long
a phantom plays monotonous percipitations

the game continues
to begin anew
the dice is the leader
the cards are finite

time wanders in a trivial pursuit
following the strewn clothes of lovers in transit
drinks stir, soaking the carpets
choices are made to apologize for chance

time beckons in a trivial pursuit
bubbles of memory
pockets of pain
seasons stacked up, circling to land

time chases in a trivial pursuit
paths are lost forever
relationships crumble from the motion
happiness dies countless deaths

time hates itself in its trivial pursuit
it shoulders the consequences of the fear and grief it spreads
it loses its identity
and is crushed by its existence

colors darken into empty shapes
taste and smell congeal
sounds form into thickening twisted knots

a dog scurries
apparitionally
alone in sympathy
it cannot understand

arms of activity
limitless ferment
dancing in madness
fleeing from feelings

this room is silent
solid and isolated
occupied at times
by present and past

Her boyfriend sat across from her
and he once had been me
He should have been happy
He should have stayed

She was in his life glowing
a blessing of emotion
He should have understood her
or at least communicated

the game never finishes
its motion won’t subside
but its pretense fools the wise
and traps all
forever

the morning rises
timidly, relunctantly
its features are grey
from the last party

— Zumwalt (1985)

there’s no drought about it

there’s no drought about it

the fountain shouts
with an overwhelming bout of color-lit water
in a passionate fit of fashion it pours out its inner most need
neither avarice nor greed
simply the seed of a self-centered flower.

the thundercloud booms
taking up more room in an overcrowded encounter
its war-torn form pours out scorn on the earth
an attempt to briefly reassert
the importance of a morning shower.

  jack strong and muscularly weighted
  from bench press freight greatly elevated
  struts about the beach
  nakedly painted speedos now activated
            nothing left to chance
            nothing understated
            debating with himself if he’s x or r-rated

  jill scantily clad
  in the latest thonged fad
        lays and bathes in the rays she maintains that she craves
        though she’s here mainly to daze,
        haughtily take off her shades,
        and occasionally faze any stray
              make-a-play braves that come by
              to gaze and throw lines her way.

the ocean roars
as its tidal waves pour onshore to make the sea forcefully screech forth
in a rampage of rage it sweeps the front page
of the island town paper
and make those that survive
cower from it self-asserting power

  i am important!
      i am here!
                  i am!
     not, i am not!

                        i am of significance!
  i am something you don’t see everyday in the bathtub!
  when i chose to be
                        i am not not there!

the little dog
using it claws
digs making an impression
on Peterson’s ground
knowing its work should be remembered after it’s gone
wraps up the morning
by watering the lawn.

— Zumwalt (1990)

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