Strange days, and stranger nights. I wouldn’t mind
it weirder. A whiskey in my hand,
and you, well, out of hand. At least I wish
it so. A jazzman’s on the stereo.
He’s murdering the standards, with piano,
bass, and drums complicit in the act:
it’s “Night and Day,” and “Tea for Two,” “I’ve Got
You under My Skin.” You think the world
will kill you quick, but really it just eats
you slow. Just like I sip. There’s chicken in
the fridge. I’ll chop some greens. Relax. If you
sleep hard enough, it’s like you’re dead, except
you get to live again. You rise a little
faded, but a kiss will bring the color back.
It’s Mahler now this morning, college football
later in the afternoon. The coffee’s
on, but something’s clinging like a spider
web that spans the crawlspace snug between
your skull and brain. An old man, looking like
an oak-tree god, is frowning, asks you, “Fool,
what have you brought?” You swear he’s cut your tongue,
you’re drinking blood. Saliva-sick, you swallow,
wallow in the thought of suffering
but bringing something back. Recycled life,
like Byron, maybe Christ. “I offer up
my body and the body of my work,”
you sing. “The paltry all that anyone
can do.” Phone rings. You shake. The web still clings.
John Luther Adams’ Ocean piece is playing
soft, and susurrations comes to mind.
I’ve got last night’s linguini zapped and steaming
in a bowl. The coffee’s gone, but sun’s
come out (I keep on typing sin’s). Back deck’s
still wet. I’m thinking amputation now,
how it’s the wreck of reputation amplified:
Our tough old greyhound Scarlet’s lost
a cancerous-looking toe, but she’s bounced back
(just like eight years ago, with blocked intestines
like a boa draped around our vet),
is trotting now. We’ve got to keep her bandage
dry. I miss our banged-together bodies.
Blown leaves whisper, Loss’s flipside is love.
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 The Pangolin Review and Dirty Paws Poetry Review. Tom's website: https://thomaszimmerman.wordpress.com/.