Thomas Zimmerman

Zimmerman and Poetry

He googles Zimmerman and poetry
when he feels low. The point? A poet is
a junkyard dog; the published poem, a bone.

Most readers give you twenty seconds. Then
you’d better give them something back, or else
you’ll end up teaching, never to atone.

He drinks an ale called Anger. Two-thirds gone.
What’s next? That cheap Shiraz that vibrates by
the stereo? He’ll workshop now. Alone.

Next time you want to die, remember just
how good you feel right now. This jagged verse
has snagged a drifting petal, scratched a stone.

So what’s a poem? A rhythm, and a tone.
So what’s this flesh we lug around? A loan.

 

 

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Timothy Donnelly

MALAMUTE

When I was a dog I pulled the sled with the other dogs
and to the crest of my ability for never was I a snob about it
moreover never lazy, day into night through the cold
pine forest we were bred to and for which I came to feel
love as fast as others as a blur that slowed around us
at our suppers, then watched us twitch in our heavy sleep.

When I was a dog I pulled the sled with the other dogs
mile on mile convincingly, my tongue construed the forest
no condition not to drape in, identical its pinkness
from my open mouth as theirs, the nylon tapes between us
reinforcing sentiment, a kind relief through constant
focus but from what I failed to grasp, as did our language.

When I was a dog I pulled the sled with the other dogs
who didn’t know I didn’t know, but that was what we were
meant to be there for to begin with, yet I could follow
them who followed anyone behind us through the forest
where what seemed to know but was a shape without
sufficient contour hovered, and it proved some trouble to me.

When I was a dog I pulled the sled with the other dogs
concealing my disquiet like a shoulder bone the forebears
said to hurry up now bury, but everywhere the dirt
rebuffed my larger purpose, a fortitude from all the earth
had frozen up against me, the paws of whom had brought me
nowhere but to shame to let it drop for another mouth.

When I was a dog I pulled the sled with the other dogs
the way a roof collapses, inevitably, and even as the wind
must always push or it isn’t wind, it’s air, and I was air
that had come to think of it, in some trouble to me the others
felt no twitch of, or if they did, our language failed what
must have been its purpose, or I won’t soon be a dog again.

Brett Elizabeth Jenkins

Horses Explain Things to Me

 

Today is a crash course on moving gently.

How to take a gift from someone so gingerly

they believe they still have it. If you move

soft enough through the wind or woods,

they say the sun will make a space for you.

Some of your regrets might soften. I move

terribly. I crush twigs and spiders but the horses

say nothing of it; they let me pet their long manes.

I hop on and we walk out to the end of wanting.

What is God? I ask them. They tell me, Yes.

 

 

 

Ron Koetge

Signs & Miracles

“If You exist,” I said, “send me
a pony.”

Immediately Jesus appeared
in my bedroom.

I got off my knees. “You heard
my prayer!”

He quoted Himself: “Except ye
see signs and miracles, you will
not believe.”

“Be reasonable, Jesus. It’s hard
to just take Your word for it.”

“But I’m here. In your bedroom.
Isn’t that enough?”

“So is the pony outside?”

A. B. Jackson

Three poems from Apocrypha

III

Bed-head Lazarus, at breakfast:
three Embassy Regal, tea so strong
you could trot a mouse on it.

To his bare barrel chest, a rag
embroidered with Do Not Disturb
was butterfly-stitched.

Nettle cheese omelette, French
toast with field mushrooms,
three more furious cigarettes.

Manifest ailments: eye-gum,
heart overrun with Japanese knotweed,
cock not worth a docken.

Mist burned off. Honey bees fussed
religiously, as usual, over roses.

 

VII

Adam lay miraculous,
unconscious with drink.
In a dream, he named whiskies

by nose, palate, finish:
brine and limes, a delicate
peat-reek, Weetabix.

Plasticine, emulsion paint,
amyl nitrate. A warm horse.
Kippers, treacle toffee, grassy

with green grape …
the work was endless.
Jalapeno peppers, tobacco notes …

Adam rose with a rough tongue
and heartbroken.

 

XX

Balding, young Noah
constructed a classic comb-over.
High wind signalled ruin,

impending rain. He amassed
articles on follicle health, applied
pigeon dung paste,

pomades of hippopotamus fat,
black Andalusian foal urine.
The more elusive ingredients

took jungle-time and steel traps,
an array of live bait, his life
regime and rumour.

Markets rose. Bullet-head Noah
floated his beauty empire.

 

 

John Berryman

Address to the Lord

Master of beauty, craftsman of the snowflake,
inimitable contriver,
endower of Earth so gorgeous & different from the boring Moon,
thank you for such as it is my gift.

I have made up a morning prayer to you
containing with precision everything that most matters.
‘According to Thy will’ the thing begins.
It took me off & on two days. It does not aim at eloquence.

You have come to my rescue again & again
in my impassable, sometimes despairing years.
You have allowed my brilliant friends to destroy themselves
and I am still here, severely damaged, but functioning.

Unknowable, as I am unknown to my guinea pigs:
How can I ‘love’ you?
I only as far as gratitude & awe
confidently & absolutely go.

I have no idea whether we live again.
It doesn’t seem likely
from either the scientific or the philosophical point of view
but certainly all things are possible to you,

and I believe as fixedly in the Resurrection-appearances to Peter and to Paul

as I believe I sit in this blue chair.
Only that may have been a special case
to establish their initiatory faith.

Whatever your end may be, accept my amazement.
May I stand until death forever at attention
for any your least instruction or enlightenment.
I even feel sure you will assist me again, Master of insight & beauty.