Thomas Zimmerman teaches English at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He and his wife, Ann, live with two retired racing greyhounds, Scarlet and Percy. Tom’s website: thomaszimmermanonline.com
Tonight the basement-window lights across
the street have made the neighbors’ house a head
that’s buried up to its eyes. A god’s incisors
shine through yews that beard the house next door.
The apple tree’s the mummy of a Titan
that escaped castration. Look: that sparrow dead
upon the curb’s a womb of festering life.
Inside, the heat has piqued a rhododendron’s
long stray ray atop my mother’s hope chest.
While you comb your hair, I see your breasts
through rustling silks. In the mirror’s
eye, you’re cowled in brown-gold bees. My prone
torso’s a stubble-field: at your touch, something wild
and shiny-crested shudders into flight.
The shadow, id of the electric light,
might not attract the flying insects, but
the crawlers love it well and tell us what
our psyches sometimes won’t: that constant, bright-
white, artificial light, when focused, might
be fine in public, when we wish to cut
a figure, flit about on wings, keep shut
our inner eyes, stay blind to deeper sight;
but when we crawl in our obscurity,
alone with mysteries of sex and death,
we feed ourselves a root, a meat, that lets
us seed our darkness, with this surety:
the shadow gives our psyches blood and breath,
enriches us with treasures it begets.
Union Square Marriott
Slight toothache from this temporary crown
can’t stop my worried peanut-munching ways
and makes elixir of this wine I down,
the heel of last night’s drunken screw-top haze.
Tonight, my wife is in the other bed—
the two in here are neither king nor queen—
so I, this chain-hotel’s Macbeth, my head
a-swim with symphony we’ve heard and seen,
will be denied the chance to murder sleep
with any hapless sex advance. Perhaps
the ferry-ride to Alcatraz, the steep
Nob Hill ascent to Chinatown, our map’s
equivocation took their toll. A pawn
in marriage, I will dream as king till dawn.