Surprisingly there were a few choices for Z -- a couple poets writing today - Matthew Zapruder, whose poems wow-ed me some years ago when I first encountered his book, Come On All You Ghosts (Copper Canyon, 2010),, and the Polish poet and translator, Adam Zagajewski, and Louis Zukofsky, both of whom I have heard about but not read at all. So, Z is for Zapruder it is.
Here then are four poems by Matthew Zapruder.
Come On All You Ghosts (an Excerpt)
by Matthew Zapruder
I heard a little cough
in the room, and turned
but no one was there
except the flowers
Sarah bought me
and my death’s head
glow in the dark key chain
that lights up and moans
when I press the button
on top of its skull
and the ghost
I shyly name Aglow.
Are you there Aglow
I said in my mind,
reader, exactly the way
you just heard it
in yours about four
poem time units ago
unless you have already
put down the paper directly
after the mention
of poetry or ghosts.
Readers I am sorry
for some of you
this is not a novel.
Good-bye. Now it is just
us and the death’s head
and the flowers and the ghost
in San Francisco thinking
together by means
of the ancient transmission device.
I am sorry
but together we are
right now thinking
along by means
of an ancient mechanistic
system no one invented
particles that somehow
(weird!) enter through
your eyes or ears
depending on where
you are right now
reading or listening.
To me it seems
like being together
one body made of light
clanging down through
a metal structure
for pleasure and edification.
Reader when I think of you
you are in a giant purple chair
in a Starbucks gradually leaking power
while Neil Young
eats a campfire then drinks
a glass of tears
on satellite radio.
Hello. I am 40.
I have lived in Maryland,
Amherst, San Francisco,
New York, Ljubljana,
of the great ornate wooden frame
holding the mirror the dead
saw us in whenever
we walked past),
New Hampshire at the base
of the White Mountains
on clear blue days
full of dark blue jays
beyond emotion jaggedly piercing,
Minneapolis of which
I have spoken
earlier and quite enough,
Paris, and now
San Francisco again.
Reader, you are right now
in what for me is the future
without this poem.
I myself am suspicious
and cruel. Sometimes
when I close my eyes
I hear a billion workers
in my skull
hammering nails from which
all the things I see
get hung. But poems
are not museums,
they are machines
made of words,
you pour as best
you can your attention
in and in you the poetic
state of mind is produced
said one of the many
French poets with whom
I feel I must agree.
Another I know
writes his poems on silver
paint in a mirror.
I feel like a president
raising his fist in the sun.
To read the rest of this piece, purchase the Paris Reviw issue or buy Zapruder's book [Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Powell Books, Copper Canyon Press].
by Matthew Zapruder
She asked me how long it will be
until the giant black rose
she has seen in her dreams
bursts out of the ocean just beyond
the walls of the circular city
and drips molten fire on the heads
of likenesses of the smiling gods
who sent a message from outside
our solar system crying
and swearing to protect us
if we built them. Quite
a long time. Probably many
hundreds of years. First we must
build the circular walls,
then the towers and the steps.
Then we must build the satellite array
and send it into the atmosphere.
And we don't have that
technology yet. The scientists
who can dream of building it
have not yet even been born. So
for now I say to her let us live
here in this apartment and make
sounds of love on this futon
while outside the window the orange
extension cable strangles
the white and green flowering branch
and monks cry anciently on the radio.
by Matthew Zapruder
I like the word pocket. It sounds a little safely
dangerous. Like knowing you once
bought a headlamp in case the lights go out
in a catastrophe. You will put it on your head
and your hands will still be free. Or
standing in a forest and staring at a picture
in a plant book while eating scary looking wild flowers.
Saying pocket makes me feel potentially
but not yet busy. I am getting ready to have
important thoughts. I am thinking about my pocket.
Which has its own particular geology.
Maybe you know what I mean. I mean
I basically know what's in there and can even
list the items but also there are other bits
and pieces made of stuff that might not
even have a name. Only a scientist could figure
it out. And why would a scientist do that?
He or she should be curing brain diseases
or making sure that asteroid doesn't hit us.
Look out scientists! Today the unemployment rate
is 9.4%. I have no idea what that means. I tried
to think about it harder for a while. Then
tried standing in an actual stance of mystery
and not knowing towards the world.
Which is my job. As is staring at the back yard
and for one second believing I am actually
rising away from myself. Which is maybe
what I have in common right now with you.
And now I am placing my hand on this
very dusty table. And brushing away
the dust. And now I am looking away
and thinking for the last time about my pocket.
But this time I am thinking about its darkness.
Like the bottom of the sea. But without
the blind florescent creatures floating
in a circle around the black box which along
with tremendous thunder and huge shards
of metal from the airplane sank down and settled
here where it rests, cheerfully beeping.
And one last poem for today and also the last poem to end this alphabetic exercise this month.
by Matthew Zapruder
Today in El Paso all the planes are asleep on the runway. The world
is in a delay. All the political consultants drinking whiskey keep
their heads down, lifting them only to look at the beautiful scarred
waitress who wears typewriter keys as a necklace. They jingle
when she brings them drinks. Outside the giant plate glass windows
the planes are completely covered in snow, it piles up on the wings.
I feel like a mountain of cell phone chargers. Each of the various
faiths of our various fathers keeps us only partly protected. I don’t
want to talk on the phone to an angel. At night before I go to sleep
I am already dreaming. Of coffee, of ancient generals, of the faces
of statues each of which has the eternal expression of one of my feelings.
I examine my feelings without feeling anything. I ride my blue bike
on the edge of the desert. I am president of this glass of water.
I'll leave you with a link to Zapruder's blog, which I just found today.
We have five more days left and there will be five more posts but the theme for this month has run its course. So, no themes to follow for the remaining five days. - just five poets who I wished I had covered in the month but who got displaced by me choosing someone else whose last name starts with the same letter.