A Poetry Collection from – THOMAS ZIMMERMAN

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“If Your Life Is Burning Well, Poetry Is Just the Ash”

                                                                        after Leonard Cohen

The largess of the doomed

is sitting on our hands:

our tongues are banging tra la-la

to fill the lines, our bellies, and our lives.

But evil is banal, we know.

When I see leaves sun-shot in breeze, I feel

as if what Emily

so militantly wrote

about the head’s explosion

is the truth.

We call it poetry, but beauty—

in Montana, in the laundromat, in class—

it lifts us like I once was lifted

by young Anne Sofia Mutter

playing Pärt’s Tabula Rasa

in electric blue.

Night holds off—

why? Our faces, deft hands shine

with torchlight that we pass

like cups of wine.


Wings Nailed On


The night drapes velvet, wet: our bellies rub

against an ocean oiled by our molt,

the stars fly by, linguini in a pot

of brine that boils as hard as Whitman’s brain

OD’d on Emerson. These dreams we slub

and scuff to grunge up/down, a day-glo bolt

of cloth that tweaks our nakedness, too hot

to bleed with post-post-irony, to stain

my kisses on your breasts. Your free hand’s tight

around my cock. Let’s take a thousand you’s,

and multiply by I’s, then add a pinch

of weirdness we’ve cultivated: right

amount of spice. Let’s love these delta blues.

Let’s find the empyrean inch by inch.


The Water Rising


The water rising over reason, neighbors                                        

dressed like animals, dog barfing on                    

their sidewalk: better taste than I. We must                    

be patient. Something’s coming closer, ghostly.            

Let it. Be. Each syllable a cry,                                   

a curse, an incantation. Long-haired boy                                           

who keeps a cat inside his jumper: do                                

you love him, sister? Gargoyles perched on eaves,      

our selves on shelves. The way you play                                           

that violin sometimes, dear Jascha, makes                       

me want to cry. A man who choked up only                    

when he spoke of beauty. That’s                          an epitaph.                    

My business is on Earth, with vibrant colors,                    

mostly grays. Jeweled window: raining still.     


Spam Poetics


A second scotch bears wingbeats and the clop

of hooves: Parisian sewers, nimbus clean

as brother Theo’s brushes. Wheels and chop-

shop dreams, soft cogs and machinations, sheen

of sealed interiors that oxygen

will eat. You lie, a pharaoh disinterred:

your love, a doppelgänger Saracen,

transcribes a Bach sonata. Rise! Be heard!

Your banshee grips a bare, forked figurine:

And I am not the man I am / I am

an aim, an anima, an iamb! Keen

as knives, the syllables keep slicing spam

poetics, spiced and canned art brut that lasts

past Armageddon, starves iconoclasts.


One Eye a Button, One Eye a Stone


The button eye undresses you,

it rolls its wheel too fast around your breasts,

then slows a little in the grass.

The stone eye’s in

a lone crow’s mouth.

Hot, clamped and wet, it flies in darkness.

I use it for the other sex act, art.


No vile gel in either eye,

just passing clouds.

There is no evil except cruelty.


The cats we loved are dead,

the orange one, the white-and-black.

They’re like the colors of my eyes

that you can’t see:

the fire, the ice, the shattered night

at the imagined,

and sometimes unbearably delayed,



TZimmerman (2)

Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits two literary magazines at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His chapbook In Stereo: Thirteen Sonnets and Some Fire Music appeared from The Camel Saloon Books on Blog in 2012. Tom’s website:


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