Thomas Zimmerman

p o e t r y

Suspicious Mind

Just please slow down and talk to me: I’m dead,

you’re REM; I’m soul departed, you are love.


This afterwhat I’ve heard about: not all

believe. There must be something else, or this


is it. The Golden Rule, the amber waves

of grain. The beer I drain, the tunes I play


if only in my head, like Zeus with no

Athena there to bust my skull, owl-wise


and fully armored, so when words run out,

we fight. And no one’s here but us, you say.


Yes, I believe you/me. Our pronouns fade

like dreams on waking. Thoughts are all: seems safe


as proposition, gray and cool, a stone

that falls through water, water falling on


a stone. Concentric circles ripple, spread.

The serpent eats its tail. There’s zero owed.



Die of Life

The die of life’s six sides: love, death, art, sex,

Mom, Dad. It’s just last-cup-of-coffee ramblings:

roll the thoughts and hope that I’ll be rocked.

That’s Monk trink-trinkling from the speaker. He

transmogrifies his demons into limping saints.

I’m singing to myself: Remember half-

remembered Saturdays of childhood? Dad,

his second beer half-gone (Mom’s wifely limit

firm), retells the story of the teacher-nun

who whacked his knuckles with a ruler, told him

that he’d go to hell. And his reply, “That’s fine,

I want to be right where my good friends are.”

And happiness now whacks me like a mallet:

I’ve been bequeathed the life of such a sinner’s son.





Sex-matted hair like roots that fork into

the earth. Earth under nails and under this

cool bed. The wires that bind us, puppet strings,

Medusa locks, ol’ ball-and-chain,

an albatross, long marriage and its weather.

Bleeding cords I’ve snapped or cut, the others

bleeding too, they cauterize, they lick them

into scar, to something smoother, stronger.

Age spots’ moss creeps up and down my hands,

along the riverbanks where we have loved,

your breasts so white they’re blue, the army blanket’s

olive drab so dense its blacker than

the night, Dad’s ghost still woven in the wool

that scratches naked skin. The smell of semen,

smell of blood: selected elementals.

River-scent as strong, and moving slower,

more enduring. We have been here many

times, but lightly, we, despite these darknesses

that seem so solid and so deep.




Tragic Love Triolet

Our love burns cold with déjà vu.

              The heart’s renewed; the head grows old.

Macbeths we’ve been, our minds askew.

              Our love burns cold with déjà vu.

Star-crossed, fate-poisoned, doomed, we two.

My Tristan died for your Isolde.

Our love burns cold with déjà vu.

              The heart’s renewed; the head grows old.




The Gift

Some days, we fly apart: The words won’t come.

The head’s unscrewed. The limbs so loose, unstrung,

we’re piecemeal puppets. Pipes are shot, the plumb-

line’s snapped. Our body rags flap twisted, wrung

like tattered flags on some accursed field,

the sodden earth a mill, a churn, a maw

devouring all we think we are. But caw

of crow, of crone, can raise a sun fresh-peeled,

moon’s revenant. A string quartet, a mad

sonata licking wounds, a spell cast wrong

that knits and doesn’t snag, wild and free

synaptic sparking in the brain, the bong

exhausted, tinctures chugged, and we, charmed we,

reclaim the gift, the song we’ve always had.

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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 Rasputin: A Poetry Thread, Little Rose Magazine, and Furtive Dalliance. Tom's website: