A greeting card with Hemingway’s big noggin
on the front, a pack of batteries,
hand sanitizer, grocery bags, a stainless
steel dog dish, a jar of peanut butter,
Fuji apples in a hand-thrown bowl:
my housespace and my braincase play on “shuffle.”
Neighbor’s mowing: need a lover now
to shave my back. That’s Brubeck’s “Take Five” breathing
cool and smooth: if not salvation, just
a little help. So make things personal?
Be grateful? Questions nurse my now. “Relax,”
my better angel murmurs. “Leave a record:
keep your poems. Won’t smother you with answers,
only comfort.” Right. That is the answer.
It’s all these years piled heavily: a stacked
deck shuffled, dealt: a fate. No wonder that
my shoulders slope, my middle’s spread. I build
a house of cards: the woman that I think
I want. I tower all my quarters: manhood
I’ve been fed. Yes, I could take it to
the river, old-time song and faith. A bluesman’s
there, waist-deep in water, fingerpicking
a guitar, his cab parked back behind
the buckthorn-strangled scrub, his singing achy-
sweet, his neck: taut cords and well-worn leather.
“Be like him,” I tell myself, but we
must meet to share our stories. Wide and deep,
the water. Heavy with the years, my legs.
© Thomas Zimmerman 2020
Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits The Big Windows Review at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. Poems of his have appeared recently in The Beatnik Cowboy, Bombfire, and These LInes. Tom’s website.