Zimmerman Skyrat

Bus Stop

No doubt she desperately wished there were no witnesses,
but out the window I saw her frightened eyes
as the crowded bus slowed to a stop,
and the moment’s hesitation
at climbing on
to face
all those people.


Honolulu, At Night, From the Air

Springing up from the depths of the valleys,
electric lava flows
spilling down to the black sea
and covering the coast,
as if an ancient sower of lights
had waded the wide Pacific, casting handfuls of
his tiny twinkling seeds across Oahu’s shores,
but hurried on
and missed the mountains



“Lancelot’s back!”
“Lancelot’s back!”
I can still remember the hue and cry when I was a kid—
the boys scurrying and the girls giggling,
the cart drivers murmuring and scattering out of the way—
as that white stallion bigger than a mountain charged
through the gates and down the road kicking up dust,
the great knight himself atop in full armor
so silvery-shiny you’d think the sun itself
had mounted Pegasus and rode into Camelot.

Summer Festival’s in full swing with banners
waving and trumpets sounding and it’s such
a perfect sunny day you just know
he must have planned it that way.
Word travels like lightning and Guinevere leans
out of her window, heart beating faster,
knowing it’s him before he rounds the corner,
and the ladies-in-waiting blush and smile dreamily
at his slightest glance.

He looked like a granite statue; he coulda been a god,
the coolest dude that ever was, the only hero
of me and my pals as we scrambled around him,
our heads barely reaching up to his stirrup,
begging him to let us help with his shield or sword,
or to polish just a tiny bit of armor for him—
and right then there was nothin’ in the whole world
we wanted more than to ride out
on a quest with the great one himself.

Man, that dude was cool!


Something In Your Eyes Does Not Belong There

Something in your eyes does not belong there—
the galaxies light-years away claim it for their very own.
It keeps its secrets like the pyramids;
refusing revelation, unexplained,
beyond all description and language
it begins, at just the edge of feeling,
like the empty space between

the lines of a poem I could never write.


Diogenes Visits the Watergate
      with thanks to e. e. cummings for the stolen line

Novus ordo seclorum...
Surrealistic reality creeps into
     the six o’clock televised illusions.
A deranged bald eagle circles above a
     winding yellow brick freeway
     lined with broken playpens.

“Buffalo Bill’s defunct,” indeed
and unicorns are extinct,
     replaced now by intelligent dolphins
     spouting Esperanto,
vainly attempting communication (who?what?why?)
     and looking forlornly lost,
like Diogenes at the Watergate Hotel.


Caution: Read Instructions Carefully Before Using
     for Bob Dylan
Dark alleys and derelict bars are pretty safe;
It’s main streets and Campus Centers ya gotta watch.
Someone’s always lurkin’ behind a sign
t’ assault ya with his rules and ideas.
(“Do this!” “Don’t do that!”
“Rally here!” “Support this!” “Defeat that!”
“Can’t ya read the sign, kid?”)
Street corner prophets with weird notions of right & wrong
will try t’ get under yer skin. Crazy opinions which’ve festered in
faculty brains fer years will encroach on yer peace of mind.
All standards are constructed of 1 part truth, 2 parts lies,
2 parts hypocrisy, a teaspoon of fear, & a dash of bitters;
do not accept someone else’s standards unless properly gift-wrapped.
When a pretty long-haired blonde, smilin’ sweetly, hands you
flowers, don’t take ’em—that’s just her form of propaganda.
Never accept a handbill bein’ passed out on the street:
it will self-destruct in 5 seconds.
Walk in a straight line t’ wherever yer goin’
and don’t make no illegal left turns.
When ya pass “Go” refuse the 200 dollars
or you will be indebted t’ the jailer fer life.
Always beware of people carryin’ posters;
when you turn your back they will attack viciously
an’ beat you about the head and shoulders fer ignorin’ them.
Pretend t’ be interested;
if you don’t they will threaten you with a pointy stick.
Do not attempt t’ taste someone that’s between sandwich boards
advertisin’ free tickets to the End Of The World;
you will contract food poisoning of the brain for which there is no cure.
Never sign a petition of yer own volition.
If someone aproaches ya with an evil gleam in his eye
an’ a pen & paper in hand, immediately make a 180°
an’ run fer yer life: he is a petition-passer.
If you ever once sign a petition
you will be eternally trapped forevermore.
Strange men carryin’ shotguns will knock on yer door late at night
demandin’ that you sign their petition too.
Strange women will threaten t’ slash their wrists
if ya don’t sign theirs too.
You will begin t’ have nightmares:
you will dream yer standin’ on a street corner
between a senator & a college student,
each demandin’ that you sign their petition.
You will be unable t’ decide between the two.
An unoccupied police car will come wailin’ down the sidewalk,
lights flashin’, bearin’ down on ya at 55 m.p.h.;
you will have 3 seconds left t’ decide between petitions.
The senator will be screamin’ in one ear & the student in the other,
an’ at the last second you will quick grab a pen and sign one.
You will wake up shiverin’ just as you realize you signed the wrong one.
Refold Inner Wrapper Tightly After Use.
Keep Out of the Reach of Children.


Pepper #30 photograph by Edward Weston
Pepper #30 - Photograph by Edward Weston, 1930

Vegetable Crisper:  Group Portrait With Bell Pepper
      for Edward Weston

Huddled alone
between celery and carrots
nestled with his vegetable cousins
in the chilly dark crisp air
dreaming of that warm summer on the vine


In commemoration of the fantastic play that occurred in the top of the eighth inning of the first game of the 1974 World Series between the the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics. Sal Bando of the Athletics tried to score from third on Reggie Jackson’s sacrifice fly to right-center, but was thrown out by right-fielder Joe Ferguson of the Dodgers, who caught the ball and then threw a perfect strike to catcher Steve Yeager at home. Yeager blocked the plate like a pit bull guard dog and took an earth-shaking direct hit from the charging Bando, but held on to the ball to complete the inning-ending double play. Unfortunately, the Dodgers lost the game 3-2, and the Series, 4 games to 1. It took fourteen years, but the Dodgers finally beat the Athletics, by the same 4 games to 1 margin, the next time they faced each other in a World Series, in 1988. There are several videos of the ’74 Series on YouTube; THIS ONE has a good look at Ferguson’s throw and Yeager’s catch at about the 4-minute mark.

Yeager catches Ferguson's throw to nail Bando at the plate!
Yeager catches Ferguson's throw to nail Bando at the plate!

Ode to the Guardian of the Plate
      for Steve Yeager

See him there: in his knight’s armor
Girded for battle
Wrapt ’round in trappings thick
A fearsome vision of latent power
Awaiting the throw

The gauntlet’s flung—the joust is set
And down the line a gold knight gallops
As swift and sure the sphere flies home

A thunderous crash, and both then tumble to the dirt!

See him now: he rises to his knees
Sphere held high, a magic trophy-shield of burnished white
Triumphant cries pour forth from ’round the gallery
He lumbers back, returning to his round table
Another foe undone


What the Horse Said

A horse once spoke to me without words,
but missing the translation, I didn’t hear or heed.
I fell from the sky, that’s all the horse knew,
or needed to know.
He trotted over and stood motionless on the other side of the fence,
staring calmly at me,
“respectfully,” you could say,
“expectantly,” you could say,
“nobly,” you could say.
I paused only a moment idly wondering,
and gathering up my parachute
blithely moved on towards the rest of my life.
But oh! those enormous brown eyes would not let go!

A decade later, half way ’round the world,
in a quiet pet store just right for revelation,
a small capuchin monkey reminded me.
Scurrying over and clinging to the cage bars as I passed
(they’re always on the other side, I thought: bars... fences...),
gazing intently at me he reeled me back
to peer into his miniature face too human to bear.
He stared back,
“gravely,” you could say,
“knowingly,” you could say,
“mournfully,” you could say.
And oh! those tiny brown eyes would not let go!
“You forgot,” they said in reproach.
“You’ve forgotten what the horse said.”