Sunday 5 November 2017

4 Poems by Thomas Zimmerman

To Namremmiz Samoht

The mythic mumbo jumbo you’re a sucker
for—the vagina dentata in Dracula,
all those trees that haunt Macbeth, the long
black bag you drag, the one the Jungians say
you stuffed with troubles till your thirties and
will spend your gray life emptying—what
if it’s all real? At least as real as Shostakovich
on the stereo right now, as coffee
almost gone, as Percy’s turds you bagged
this morning in the park, as last night’s visitation—
no other way to say it—woman’s hand
around your sleep-stiff cock, whispered words
“Our shadows stain the earth,” the shudder when
it dawned on you that time will wash it all away.

American Myth

The smell of lilac yesterday,
the smell of rain today.
And death-tones on the stereo:
Charles Ives and Philip Glass,
the haunted generations.
Wife not here.
Third beer in front of me.
Familiar tropes. I think about
the women that I’ve known
and what they’ve done and what
they still might do. Vain hopes!
Keep going, say my ghosts,
and I’m adrift in space,
the world is bobbing like a piece
of fruit, and I—
damned blessèd fool—I eat it.

The Other Zimmerman
for Bob Dylan

I’m drinking porter in the kitchen, Blonde
on Blonde still playing soft. My wife is gone,
the dogs are zonked, and I am trying to
create. I sip. There’s bitterness without
much body: true with beer or marriage. Dawn
lies hours away, and I am lying through
my teeth. There’ll be no poem tonight, just doubt
that gloms on to my Thomas, sacred bond
that chafes yet whets. The music? Well, it woos:
a country band behind Rimbaud, the best
thing rock has ever offered. Darkness sifts
its richness through the pines, my mind and chest
expand, relax. And now my spirit lifts.
Sound corny? No more than the singer’s blues.

Deconstructing Friday Night

A single-malt, the wind that smells of rain,
and Mahler’s Ninth just playing soft behind
me: God could pop up, like a website ad.
Or even that old cornball, Satan, horns
and pitchfork, cloven hooves and sulfur farts.
Philosophers are right, that evil is
banal. Just like my waking dream of life:
existence thinned to food and sex and sleep.
An animality I crave. To crawl
and writhe and rave, like something from a Blake
engraving. No. Somewhere in me a guide,
a puling whelp of conscience, grabs the wheel
to swerve us clear before we hit the tree.
O better angel, you bedevil me.


Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits The Big Windows Review at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His poems have appeared recently in Brickplight, Blood and Bourbon, and Tipton Poetry Journal. Tom's website:

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