Zumwalt Poems Online

Posts tagged ‘Contemporary Poetry’

Black with Sugar

Black with Sugar

Loam-dark
A mellow companion, rich
Whose waving vapors indicate
The only friendly warmth in this
Orange-and-yellow plastic always open Tabernacle

Silent on the Formica
Sweet Latin scents caress the senses
Softening
Blows from the nicotine grayness
And insipid ceiling-speak Muzak

Smooth and sepia
Spirals down the throat, wet, warm
For a moment attention drifts
From the bleary graveyard denizens
        the three-day growth denim jacket derelict
        the greasy ember of a cook
        the scrubbed behemoth cop
        A granite waitress

A quiet witness
To a melancholy 3:00 am solo
Outside
        the neon punches holes in the glacial black
        splaying stark pastels across the street’s lonely void
Inside
        Indifference frosts the electric décor
The mug is chipped
But its contents fight the chill and bring a
Welcome, wistful
Smile

— Zumwalt (1977)

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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)

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

The Sassoon Collection: vi. The imperfect cook

The Sassoon Collection

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.

— Zumwalt (2011)

Copyright © 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

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)

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