Zumwalt Poems Online

Posts tagged ‘Free Verse’

untitled (Sept. 7, 2011)

thick trees engulf the hidden spell;
soft streams collide on risen ground;
so much, so fast, so far we go —
then leave the remnants of the trampled dust.

–Zumwalt (2011)

Strangely struggling in Shangri-La

Strangely struggling in Shangri-La

Shaken and stirred beneath the slime
I culpably allow darkening tentacles to disperse my many parts:
the little wisps of attention,
sinister and poisonous,
bend misty claws.
This night keeps extending,
strikingly silent under the depths,
invoking quaking hands above the clouds.
Such despair! The future is vanishing
straddling the light —
the next race waiting
to which such dreams
withering victims
aspire.

-Zumwalt (2016)

formaldehydration

formaldehydration

flickering, fluttering inauspicious celestial butterfly
recklessly spatters dribbling drips of darkened burgundy
over overtaken over-conscientious Cal Poly Pomona Green.

diamanté dimensions collide with an autumn-autumn whisper
merging the flap-flap-flap fanlight florescence with a soft gentle tap
shamefully simmering shimmy-round-sizzling shake-down capabilities.

it seems that this high-speed, high-tech, high-result diet
has made me high-strung;

it streams images in passing of over-charged electrons and fairy-tale fancies
faster than the past registers future impressions of near-miss impacts.

I know that time is slow.
It starts off when I do
but finishes long after I am done.

I know truth is slippery.
It hides in the shadows of possibilities
and then comes out for a quick encore before the opening curtain.

imagination weds speed-dating
timed-release capsules
to produce a solid business case
for planetary intimidation
but
when references are required
habitually-blinking, surreptitiously-slinking imagination sneaks away
like
an overwhelmed waiter serving final meals
to a condemned food-critiquing population
devouring
the last bounty of resources one deja-vu moment
before
the impending
never-ever-ever-ending
bright-light-headlight-headache supernova drought.

-zumwalt 2011

The habit of indirection

The habit of indirection

crouched like an audio-animatronic lion
on the destination end of a high hurdle
we find civilius misdirectus
the final evolution of a long chain of
isolated inattentivenesses

it feeds on marathon runners, steeple chasers
and pole vaulters
to fill the intervals
between its favorite meal

off the blocks
directed between lines that narrow into the distance
starts the one
that has carefully measured every step beforehand

no decisions to make on direction, distance or depth
no choices to meet, no chance;
no sudden unexpected moments of chasing the effervescent sparkle
with the distant dream so clearly in the sights

it doesn’t seem like a menace
chips and high tech paper-mâché
waiting patiently at the last of so many carefully counted hurdles
and it doesn’t much move

but civilius midirectus
was designed with one purpose
not to entertain
or even to be the king
but simply
and efficiently
with no remorse
(except where indicated by legal counsel)
to open its volumnous jaws
and direct a glimmer of personal existence
into a very dark stomach of
impersonal
but carefully audited
profit and loss statements

— Zumwalt (04/1998)

nevermore (original version)

nevermore

Missing the dead, more than, I suspect, they miss me, I somberly reflect:
the most recent, smell terribly,
                and the long departed are more like fallow soil than fellow souls;
I don’t want them to stagger and stumble like the living dead
or communicate to me while their face parts fall off;
I want to be around them like when they were at their best.

And so I go to memory,
that slippery, somewhat unscrupulous, disobedient vagabond
that tells the same stories and strays from the truth far too often —
each torturous tangle with memory takes something away
and provides nothing new —
this is no consolation for so many losses,
just needless punishment for keeping company with the only companion that cannot die
but only deteriorate.

— Zumwalt (2016)

(This is the original version, now verified as final version.)

she sells sultry sunrises soulfully soaking in seaside’s sensuous sandy satin sheets

down
by the seaside
our love mimics the tide
skipping out on the evening board
you teach me how to body ride

sound
of life’s breath
as a secret’s expressed
the moon strokes
and swells the surfing waves
and seeks salted seas to direct
a final ascent
to their rock, rock, rock bottom depth

I don’t need you
I just need your love
I don’t need to have you love me
I just need you to have me love

the sand is soft
but I see the vicious stony peaks
jagged and lying in the dark

the wind is sweet
but I feel the heat of a scorching sun that has yet to rise

I just want to look in your eyes
But I can’t if they’re closed
I just want to talk on the phone
So don’t change your number

Yesterday I was wearing my Acapulco hat
and some girl who I didn’t have the nerve to talk to told me I was cute
Tonight I own the coast
and you own me

I was down
by the seaside
my love mimicked your pride
skipping out so you wouldn’t be bored
you took me for a body ride

— Zumwalt (1990)

 

 

Voortrek

Voortrek

Twisting and deforming
Raging daemonic forces
Scream across the veldt.
              Corkscrew clouds
              Peeling off our thin, Formica-top civilization.

                            No Oz awaits;
                            Dorothy and Toto have headed for the shelters.
                            The only Munchkins, mutants.

Your fault
My fault
No fault.

              We pulled the cork,
              The Jinn gave their notice;
              And History’s in its familiar whirlpool
              With vertigo the fashion of today.

Like hunkered hedgehogs
Curled in spherical,
Lance-backed laagers,

We have one option:

              Shut our eyes
              And wait for the dust to settle.

— Zumwalt (1981)

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)

Hands Off, Bob Avakian!

Hands Off, Bob Avakian!

Shuffling
— In dark and dank
Howling
— A dialectic chant.

Genuflect to the rotund Mongol
Take, eat
This is my body
Of confusing, Confucian
Union by laws.
“Forgive me, Dad:
            I did a Tenzing Norgay
            On the north gate of the White House.”
“Ego te absolvo –
            You did it for the proles.”

— Zumwalt (1981)

keptomania

keptomania

gather all that gathers up
To grab for good as gravy should be grabbed
To claim one’s stake for keeping sake
and reserve away from all

greed and gluttony strapped in gunnysack
gimply put away all the wayward weighs
wasted once and recycled past

kept pets,
kept toys,
kept keys to control access

slaves, maids,
husbands, wives,
siblings, offspring
access to premium cable

I seize the day and don’t let go
I am stuck in the ultra-glare of the sun
we are at a standoff
I must have it
but it hides soon enough
hurried away by the horizon

the thief
like the state
thinks nothing is ours

the state
like the thief
wants it all
until ours is nothing

I control the corner
when I step out of
the crosswalk lines
I watch how the cars
must veer away

should we go for it all
or issue stop losses
trailing furtively at the underbelly of bollinger bands?

grace and forgiveness
get in the way of my layaway plan
I put something down
and say it’s mine

keep it
keep up
keep going
keep alive
keep quiet

keep house
keep around
keep open
keep close
keep away

keep at it
keep up with
keep in touch
keep me in mind

keep busy
keep track
keep on truckin’
keep a tune

keep good counsel
keep your independence
keep your word
keep you from harm

keep regular hours
keep the right time
keep up appearances
keep appointments

keep the peace
keep the law
keep good company
keep the ball rolling
keep a secret
keep the correct time

keep them in sight
keep your cool
keep your powder dry
keep your hat on
keep your mouth shut
keep your hands off
keep an eye out
keep at arm’s length
keep your nose clean
keep a stiff upper lip
keep a close watch

keep the car running
keep the dogs out

keep the faith
keep the commandments
keep the sabbath

keep the straight and narrow
keep them on the edge of their seats
keep them against their will
keep the wolf from the door

keep down a good man
keep it in your pants
keep it together
keep the change

keep me company
keep me posted
keep me going
keep what we have

keep it away
keep it in good taste
keep it moving along

keep the prize
keep it all
keep what you can
keep what’s left
keep deluding yourself
that you only own what you have
and you only have what you own
keeping one thought all along
and keeping for keeps
(both liked and unliked,
marked up, marked down,
taken, unlocked,
cracked, hacked and uncaulked,
packages, kits, kilts, kippers, woks and yaks,
hooks, corks, kimonos, kimchee, caskets and casks,
books, backpacks, rakes, cakes, and wrinkled,
crinkled tickets for the clack-clack rackety tracks of oft-mocked,
poky,
flaky,
shaking,
creaking,
slinking,
sinking, red-inking,
budget-breaking Amtrak)
keepsakes for the sake of keeping

— Zumwalt (2011)

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