Zumwalt Poems Online

Posts tagged ‘modern poetry’

Punctured Porcupine

Punctured Porcupine

Banished from Amami Oshima
Along with the pit viper and mongoose
Unclear on underlying circumstances and unspoken utterances
Tentatively testing the brackish toasty waters
Toe after toe
Eyelid after eyelid:
Refigerated, now red-hot, resisting the resolute resilience of
embarrassingly intertwined migrating icebreakers
discreetly disbanding, disentangling devoutly, slow dancing out to sea.

-Zumwalt (2012)

call center conversations

call center conversations

reciting written scripts
chattering cattle, chewing and spieling
windward whirling, wheeling and dealing
nouns, adjectives, action verbs
headers, disclaimers, inertia verbs
in this tornado of tomato and avocado
of spineless bombast and spiritless bravado
words take slushy, slippery substance
ringing, plinking, plunking, plucking
abrasively invasive: pocket knives and poison ivy

sarah stays the course, naturally
jessie talks her to the ledge, persuasively

It is a bleak, dark, ever-dimming landscape
Pulling all light in and letting out nothing in return
It is a empty, hollow, endlessly winding corridor
Leading ontologically onward with no chance of finality or redemption

one day, the dentist’s drill locks in and won’t let go
one hour, the need to know triumphs over the need to be known

she, sarah, held her course, intentionally
he, jessie, led with talk, aggressively
invasively
inexorably
knowing that enough noise numbs the nerves effectively
permanently
closing the sale
closing the call
but most significantly
closing the office

— Zumwalt (2015)

Silver Alert

                                            silver1
Silver Alert

Steel ballerina

Under golden dome

On ornate, jewelled throne

Sur le cou-de-pied pirouette

Arythmically composing frozen, forlorn silhouettes

Upon my irregular recall

Lost opportunities overshadowed by lost capabilities

Lost love obscured by lost loved onessilvimpa3

Left alone for a moment, she sees him getting into the last of the county’s ‘eighty-five Impalas.

He turns the key: ignites, grinds, reverses and is gone from the driveway with questionable hearing, eyesight and purpose.

I ride the road; I hide in the highway; I engage the interstate and soon catch the journey on display:

….. Silver Alert, Gray Chevy Impala, 3AUY86G …..

G is for gone.  I am gone.  I have always targeted gone. Gone has always targeted me.

She speaks, but so softly.  I get the idea.  Her words are hers alone — always have been: they never will be mine.

I cry inside, tears wreaking havoc on my kidneys, gall bladder, and parts of the spleen. There are other useful internal parts, but I dare not now look: the eyes and hands are positioned ten, two; the right side desperately stealing towards four.

I wait.  I wait in motion. I cannot do otherwise.  In a moment is all the truth of a bruised, bubbling, underwater universe: one of many, many of one.

She, or her likeness, somehow, is there, hanging from the mirror.

It’s just a symbol:

An item with mass,

An item of meaning,

And, now, an item of mobility.

— zumwalt (2015)

Bull Market

Bull Market

The gardeners have hit the pavement,
Bulldozed by smiling engineers
Optimists—peddling bromides.

Take your pick:
        Withdraw your last fiver
        For a philosophic Wheel-O;
or,
        Hands in your pockets, sardonic
        Watch Babel climb.

“On this spot will be erected utopia”
        Yeah, sure.
        But, the wise man knows Penelope
        Has taken on Ithaca
        And counsels Odysseus to put his
        Money in Krugerrands.

        — Zumwalt (late 1980’s)

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

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: 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)

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