Zumwalt Poems Online

Posts tagged ‘musings’

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)

 

 

she started to stop ironing

she started to stop ironing

creases and wrinkles
pouts and interpretations
a phone number from Port Said
left in a pocket

Oh, how the gin fizzes stir
and music concurs
as veils drip like honey

Ah,
how the cover
stays low
so the currency flows
like foot traffic at
the dusty bazaar

“I’ll show you Egypt” has been her most memorable reply
but I doubt her intentions and so plan another solo excursion
hoping that
once I return
that crumpled, rumpled look
will be comfortably cool at work

— Zumwalt (1998)

the wreck of goodwill

the wreck of goodwill

every dime counted
seemed to count itself
but the pennies were the trouble spot
and the cost of all goodwill.

— Zumwalt (1998)

Nuit Blanche

Nuit Blanche

February’s snow buried midnight
And swallowed one a.m. in subsequent flurries
Monday’s second hour
Like one of Ilium’s layers
Ruined
Awaits its inexorable interment
Atop the wrecks of its predecessors

— Zumwalt (19 February 1979,Washington, DC)

Letter from Grad School

Letter from Grad School

By way of prolegomena
Of arms and the man I sing
Of a man with arms
And hands, for that matter
And nothing that matters to do with them
But push gliding yellow felt pens
Across the faceless fees
Of physicians
Dealing the New Deal daily, deftly
To the deaf shipbuilders and jet mechanics
An ocean of OSHA’s owings
To obscure Oshkosh and Oklahoma patients
Politely
With a yellow felt pen
Felt pen is all he’s felt, lately
So come, Muse
(someone should)
And tell of the student-cum-bureaucrat
The man with arms
And hands
With nothing to do
But disburse billings
And perhaps go blind.

In medias res
A caffeine haze
Like the stained smog of the womb city
LA
Swirled, buzzing beneath his 4:00 am skull
Like a Santa Ana locked in a cave
Bleary, blurry, bushed
Home to the ‘burbs
Brimming with the firm breasted wives
Of the prowlers of the power corridors
Brown and nondescript his mentality
Two unkempt letters
On an unkempt bed
From an unkempt friend
A composer schizophrenic
Beethoven of tunes and software
And heterodox harmonies
Keeper of a faith
When all have lost faith
But a faithful foolish few.
Insanity issued from the violated envelope
Rushing, leaping, prancing
Shades, demons, ghosts, apparitions of times past
Dionysian and demented
When loons were lords of the land
(Or at least Orange County)
And rationality relegated to the serfs.
The barons of bats sat lunatic and lecherous
In a Coco’s booth sucking the bean
And contemplating coitus – elusive
And so all the more important—
Jolly jester gestures jump
From penciled pages
And in a laughing gasp at once accusatory and amusing
Howled
“Write!
For the faith is fading, dwindling
Like a soft candle stump
A fleeting flame flickering faintly from
A shriveled wick.
Write!
For I am playing pool with a drunken
Busboy lothario
The two of us—Lear and his Fool—
Leering and fooling around
With a round romp
And her dart-faced female friend.
Write!
For the roundtable is ruptured
With the tennis stud talking Tupperware
And decamping for Texas;
The Great Beard,
Erstwhile Falstaff with a joint,
Presently playing it cool
Hawking high finance
To bag some bills to pay the bills;
And the genius leader of liberated wit
Is doing a Ulysses gig in Asia
Beating knowledge into brown brains
And contracting dysentery
For the white man’s burden.
Write!
For stimulation is scarcer
Than a willing woman
And I’ll settle for a long distance laugh.
Write—Right?”

“Right,”
Murmured the pen pusher pushing off,
Toddling, tottering to sleep.
Waking the afternoon next
A cool spring Sunday
He gripped his pen determined
To pay his debt.

Agon Aristophanic
So the student
Who sings for his supper
With a yellow felt pen
And writes arcane expositions
Of the arabesque antics
Of the politics of Riyadh and Jeddah
Essayed, assessed
Saying sayings not quite sane
What he means is what he said;
Sotos speaks, so to speak.

An auspicious year, the eighty-first of the twentieth
Sophocles stooges—Clotho and her cronies—early
Gave the Greek grief
Tried to hand him brooches
But he’d seen that one before
And they left for Lauderdale lawn chair lounging
But not until his transmission was translated
Eighteen miles from Phoenix
For half a K
Plastic money and smiling despair
Got him off of Saddleback Avenue and on the road
Two days long a longue duree
At the El Rokay Lodge.
Jojo’s has migrated
Like mildew across a map
And Peasant Lunches paid with plastic
Fed the moustache all across the continent.

Back to the marble city
With minds missing marbles
And the pater patriae has a phallic
Monument mocking
The felt pen scribe scraping by
With his social life on display at the Smithsonian
Said to be extinct.

Well, can’t complain
One supposes—Eros escapes
My grasp but platonic pleasures placate.
Lots of late night nonsense with Eve’s daughters
Watching omelets cater to a Charybdis appetite
And catching two-dollar talkies at the Circle.
Taystee Diner bean brew and juke box jokes
While Hall and Oates
Simon and Garfunkel
And Queen
Eat my quarters;
A couple of babes—a lanky blonde
And a petite brunette who claims she’s a blonde—
So let’s just say he’s reveled past midnight
With two blondes.
Fun ladies and dynamite looks
Knockouts but not for knocking.
When it comes to romance his social life
Is in formaldehyde waiting for someone
To identify it.

Between hubris and hamartia
Thrice has the world whirled
Complete circuits encompassing the sun
Since the Greek marched east like Alexander
To conquer Persepolis.
Most that started the march have finished their anabasis
Dared dementia and cut the cord
With Alma Mater
But Alexander pushes on
Pushing the yellow felt pen
And checking the views at the Strait of Hormuz
Holding court, he’s
Doing okay for a tortoise.
Just a hundred pages or so to go
But if feels like walking the wastes of Gedrosia.
Let’s look to emerge a year from now…
Meantime he makes time and money green enough
With the yellow felt pen
Streaking beige bills
At Fran Perkins’ Annex.

It all adds up to the bottom line:
Amassing a Master’s stretches time and taffy
Like some Einstein joke
The faster you work,
The more tenuous and ephemeral
The whole pandering postgraduate program seems.

Anagnorisis of a sort
Beckoning from beyond an unborn year
Are the vegetables on display, evergreen and plastic,
In the kitchen appliances at Sears
Waiting to be consumed.
Legitimacy and actuality and parental approval
At some point you have to face forward
And take it like a Man.

Rustling from behind
In the grottos of your mind
Are the petrified relics mined
Memories of a golden age
(Or maybe just brass)
Pulling you back.
Is this metamorphosis imperative?

Balancing the abyss between
Plastic peas and petrified pasts
He hangs on the words, hard shells of
Thoughts
That span from the solid past
To the faceless, featureless future
An unraveling chaos with a Camarillo laugh.
He doesn’t know where he’s headed, but he’s got a
Handle on where’s he been.

By way of epilogue
The song is done
Evaporated, evanescent
As the balance in his checkbook.
The yellow felt pen pusher
Pushes on
Staining audiologists’ invoices
And the lives of those around him.
The Greek still seeks his telos
But not without some longing looks back.

 — Zumwalt (3 May 1981)

Afternoon Off

Afternoon Off

Muscling for the right of way
With horn-blast exclamations
Traffic mutters its scat song score

The sun today
Like most days
Doesn’t shine postcard gold and honeyed
It glares
Through the inversion layer
A klieg light in a smoky cabaret
But
Just the same it warms
The square

Sprawled on the grass
Midtown midday characters in
Pershing’s street show
Young Chicanos scout for chicks
And advertise adolescence
Studied, casual, tough

Some shirtsleeve transient
Sporting scrimshaw arms
Scans a racing form
His shoe leather face focused more
On Santa Anita
Than the saints
Shouted, proclaimed
By an antique black
Whose white wisps of whiskers
Cling to his accusing chin
Clouds about a crag
That trembles with every thundered damnation
As the old man makes the park
His pulpit

Basking in my own insouciance
I consider
How best to consume the remainder of the day

Perhaps a saunter to the Biltmore
To grab a joe and watch for ghosts
Or a march upcountry to Bunker Hill
To glimpse the glass castles
Mercantile and magnificent
Then again
I might, like a rookie on the bench,
Sit attentive, listening
To the traffic
And the sermon
And see what happens
Next

— Zumwalt (ca. 1977)

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)

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