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5.7k · Aug 2012
A Turn to the Right
Robert Zanfad Aug 2012
“the nation needs new direction...”
a talking head on television
got me saved as he began
“abandon investigations into global warming,
polar bears and orangutans,
other pseudo-scientific distractions
from proper resource extraction that could save us
from the mess we're in..”

proposing, instead, the latest in scientific experiments:
ascertaining the flavor of blue jelly beans,
or the true origin of belly button lint -
useful information for armchair navel-gazers

now I'm one of them

we want an installation of mirrors on the moon
so we can watch ghetto children clean toilets after class
as they repay their debts
for the free ketchup they get
from socialist school lunch programs
they’ll learn valuable skills for eventual careers
as lifetime sanitary engineers

our right-minded scientists are poised soon
to upend the old myth that earth is round
because out in Texas, anyone can see that it’s flat;
and monkeys be ******
none of those letters are in us,
the old book says it in black and white

but we’ve since adopted the newer testament,
improved through Ayn Rand
(an atheist...imagine that!)
The Savior is an investment banker, job creator
who kept his accounts off-shore
out of reach of commies and single mothers, the ******

we still espouse good christian values
(charity for the poor, yaddayadda)
cooking pots of pasta in church kitchens
to feed them;
God helps when they need more -
like medicine for uncontrolled diabetes -
which is when we lay-on-hands and prescribe
heavy doses of prayer
(the approach doesn't cost a cent)

after all, poverty is the neo-cardinal sin
(greed, by conservative decree, is now good),
unforgiven within gates of the convention
but we’ll guarantee a spray of white carnations
on the pine box at the altar if all else fails,
complements of the congregation...

just not for gays or lesbians ...
or loose women who seek abortions
before we have a chance to peek inside them...

we aim to reclaim freedom
(from guilt and contemplation,
cerebral things like thinking...)
take our country back from
the legions of excess population
who, by some estimations, seem a lot like us
but aren't

we’ll be winners again
5.0k · Apr 2010
Trip to Nantucket
Robert Zanfad Apr 2010
Remember that afternoon on the ferry
Ride to Nantucket
The labrador who fell asleep on my foot
And the kid who vomited
As we stood at the rail,
Mist in our faces
Foam that curled
From the keel in swirls
A whole world in that turbulence
That no one would ever know of -
Focused on the Grey Lady's
Promise that a warm comforter
Would melt us together again.
And it did, amid the strangers
We brushed past
On the cobbles at the wharf.
Back at the dock,
You greeted old demons
And so did I
But kept them secrets
From each other
On the long ride
Through pine forests
As you slept, I drove
Back home.
Robert Zanfad Jun 2010
I have a strange dream
seen in oddest of nights -
the one where I'm bouncing
on an old grist stone
that is spinning awfully fast.
with every push of hands to get free,
gravity pulls me back down
and I'm erasing.
first fingers and toes -
we could live without those -
but then it's elbows and knees

I eventually give up all hope of escape
and actually enjoy the ride for a bit
but opening mouth to say "ahhhh,"
I'm flung loose by centrifugal force,
and in epiphany, realize that
teeth had been griping the axle.
I could have been freed so much sooner
if only I'd let go first.
of course, by then not much was left
a mere twenty five pounds of finely marbled roast,
head still attached, but quite useless

frankincense smoldered in censers
when priests dressed in lacy
white wedding gowns
patted me down with fresh linen and silk.
the head they hacked off and discarded,
the gray not much used
but useless as transplant
and salesman refused it on trade-in.
they anointed dead flesh
in scents of rare oils
and spices imported from India,
solemnly transporting the meat to a pit
built just in front of the altar.

Young boys wearing dresses
took turns at the spit
making mean faces,
but only when no one was looking,
their tobacco juice joining
my fat drips spattered on coals.
finally I was done cooking,
three hours of basting,
and arranged with bruised fruit
on a huge silver platter with handles
that my wife rented just for the occasion.
steam shimmered over din
of all my friends, who were seated,
and family, too, dressed for a luau
in bright floral prints and grass skirts.
After a short blessing, they dug in.

When feeding was done,
dripping chins wiped from curtains
hung loose from the ceiling,
all seated agreed
the meal had been tasty,
though meat a bit gristly and greasy,
especially slices cut close to the edges.
a fat policeman called them to order
and somehow I read from a speech
by chance I had prepared in advance,
like a letter or even a poem,
in which I contritely confessed
I'd always wished to have been more,
but meal finished, and dishes clearing
at least now I'd always be with them.
3.2k · Jun 2010
Elegy for Annie
Robert Zanfad Jun 2010
blunt tips of bent cigarettes
were incisive as razors -
sliced wrists weeping
bright red sentences,
spattered unborn to blank paper
and turned into statues
so the dead would always remember
what they did,
never safe in the graves
in which they'd took refuge

but blue on blue
was ever her color;
blue on blues
seeping from old sins,
deep, hidden within spidery veins
that traced pale, soft *******,
finally filling mute lips as she slept,
subsumed in oceans of color,
blues that gave stories, as waves to shore
subsided, reclaiming their pain,
and cleansed sand once more

What end to life!
a collection of furies like stone turtles
arranged on the mantle -
just a few dozen last words
tucked among ads for
Old Spice and Polident tabs
unread, used to line
litter boxes in Cambridge
or wrap fresh fish at Hay Market;

then, someone pausing to wave at the sky
missed saving the drowning woman
by years, if he'd tried,
finding questions in every answer;
child curled in hard lap of his mother,
her cold affections of words
blew from dead lips like old wishes
without tender touch or wet kisses;
but that life continued,
if lived only blue on blue
From memories of Anne Sexton I never had, but only imagined were real, from that time we met on Mercy Street.
2.8k · Dec 2013
Sitting with Crimson
Robert Zanfad Dec 2013
there's a fat plastic tube taped sub-clavian carrying ruby fluid
from a clear bag that hangs overhead
draining mysteries of modern alchemy
into your body, its lifetime measured, silent droplets
inside a hermetically sealed hourglass we can only watch, not touch
but they don't change you

by protocol your nurse wore her nitrile gloves doubled-up
lest she get this stuff on her fingers - it's toxic -
advised you to flush the toilet twice,
making certain to eliminate stray molecules that might
be exposed to sitting innocents

i should be in the next chair, holding your hand

we might share complimentary raspberry danish,
stare at a silent TV on the wall
as it broadcasts flashing pictures of calamity from
the latest war or storm savaged country
but we’ve been living there for years already
our home not populous enough to draw serious media attention;  

we’d wrestle sips of anemic coffee from free paper cups
yours going into a red can when you've finished
because that brilliant color insinuates itself into saliva, eventually
as it does to blood and *****;
i could take mine home

i'd read moving captions at the bottom of the screen
to know what's going on in the images
while you'd feign interest in this tedious world and remind me, again,
how life is tenuous

ask me the name of that dripping liquid just to see if i was listening,
an appellation alien - if life were fair it would be easier
but i’d get the pronunciation wrong
maybe it could be a French word i remember reading to you from a menu in Paris
we might paste it thickly, soft cheese onto torn chunks of baguette
savored between sips of cabernet from long stemmed glasses;
pronounce it “good” as if we could own it

****** and gigolette -
we’d stolen the whole earth that moment,
grinning like a pair of cat burglars at a cafe table where i'd held your hand
but here we are, old again, bitter enemies
for the moment, i'm glad for Ativan and Motrin,
the only names i can remember from your tray of saltines and ginger ale

instead, i'm sitting alone at home with cigarettes and bourbon,
more congenial poisons
staring at a white, unmoving ceiling, pretending I’m working
we're like that, you know, tug and tow - where you go,
i'm heart-bound to follow
Doctor Jack insists i'll live much longer, a little sicker after
i might adjust expectations for a worn-out liver, headaches,
possible blood pressure elevations; short warnings written on the label

while yours smile, with more tricks than carnival barkers
they say, now, a handful - or only two - more tricks up their sleeves,
the grinning, white-coated thieves
Jack smiles, pats my hand, a warm man

smoking is prohibited in the clinic
i'd hang from the window ledge to get the next nicotine fix,
but it won't open to alive, mowed grass outside -
these proceedings always sequester hidden behind curtains in private,
a secret art of undertakers doctoring flesh to look still-living,
love making in mid-evening darkness we've long forgotten

i’d draw deeply chemically-treated air, forget it’s now happening
remind myself a paternal need to stay healthy for survivors
while trying to avoid living in midst of your horrors,
a preoccupation that subsumes my mind

if you’re right - and you always are - how could i bury you?
when the dog died,
i dug her hole in our garden myself, deep through tree roots to bedrock,
then beyond, depth a measure of devotion;
carved a stone with my own fingernails, her name in a crossed heart
and we two cried like shivering babies
as we shoveled all the dirt back in to cover her

these are words of a weak man, selfish ******* that i am
and really, all of life's slumped over in my lap right now,
just this little girl sleeping
but i should be in the next chair
if you'd only let me sit there
2.6k · Feb 2010
Starry Night
Robert Zanfad Feb 2010
Leaves stripped bare,
The clump of a nest
Now so obvious, but since abandoned
Past residents won't care.
This morn, winter flavored branches
Sweet confections that beckoned.
Black in twilight, the silhouettes
Look again as barren,
Swaying spindly fingers
And counting stars
Which today seem so far.
Once I reached up and plucked
Those winking sparkles to sprinkle
A pillow I shared,
Though glowing duller amid dreams
That shined in young eyes.
Their beams became beacons,
Joining hearts across oceans
So that distance wouldn't matter.
It was in absence dread fate dared,
Soon setting ancient lights to falter,
Dimming, dying through time's haze.
Oh, how long ago did I last gaze
Upon exciting skies as this!
Certain of the hopes and promise
Avowed within those sparks held.
T'was briefest of life's moments,
Most rare and intense,
Never again finding its day
Save in ambush of memory
On a night like this
When wind blows bitter and swift.
Brilliance still dances, but ever so far away
Copyright 2009 Robert Zanfad
2.5k · May 2010
Joe's Seafood Restaurant
Robert Zanfad May 2010
Bill played piano down by the bar,
moldy old show tunes
gray-haired folks listened to,
in youth they'd played over...and over.
He once told me he was terminal,
diagnosed with months left,
and had just one request
of his own to be met
before accepting eternal rest -
peace in the kiss
of a handsome young man
who's powder blue eyes
might make him feel young again.
I thought he would weep,
and heart aching, obliged,
gratified by the smile,
sweet joy it seemed to bring him...
'till Sarah stuffed a dollar
in the tumbler of tips
he kept perched on the edge
of the piano he played -
he'd won their wager
he could get the
straight kid to kiss him.
Sarah cooked in the kitchen
and I always wondered
what sort of mother
named her son -
Sarah Vaughn -
then heard the sparrow sing
on the radio, laughing
because the one I knew
squawked like a crow
and dressed
in wigs and woman's clothes
when work was finally done.
The coincidence seemed
a delicious, karmic prank,
payment for some past-life indiscretion.
Michael studied flamboyance,
raised to high art in sweeps of his hand,
head tossed back, as if to keep pace
with legs was annoyance.
Adolescent innocence ended
when I realized the only other
guy employed there
who was straight like me -
was really a she -
chest wrapped real tight.
Robert Zanfad Dec 2011
Communion of Soft Fingertips

speak, modern world
we are sketched in languages of digital bits,
parity shading certainty with probabilities of truth
giving us form and existence across distance,
distilled to series of warm, invisible numbers

frequencies divided step-wise, as Fourier found them
in noise amalgamated as information heterodyned,
left to be separated out, reordered
by advanced statistical protocols
that trace our borders with delicate, unseen fingertips
a description of new beings, relationships between them
uncertain at first in the short trails
of data they create

but there eventually - by the law of large numbers
or acts of successive approximation

we'll find them

revealed, like a pointilist painting
or seemingly random collection of string
whose elements are alone meaningless
unless we step back to see an entirety of mass
which we recognize immediately
as true love and intimacy
2.2k · Sep 2009
Robert Zanfad Sep 2009
Honeysuckle infused those summer nights
Painfully sweet perfume that dulled thoughts
Like narcotic-fueled fantasies
Replacing will with complaisance
While children plucked the soft posies
Eagerly ******* their sweetness like free candies

All season long tendrils encircled and wound
Around each bush in a push from ground,
Thieves stealing away life-giving sun
Choking old life from the garden
Unnoticed, leaf by leaf perishing, dropping
'Til shrub and tree stood each a lifeless scaffold
2.1k · Nov 2013
Robert Zanfad Nov 2013
youth’s days were borrowed, its number, your name
carefully journaled by razor into soft skin on the back of my hand,
the monument now gently faded into its wrinkles
but dust doesn’t stick to the digits, as scars can’t sweat

I hide them still, wiping away gritty life surrounding
and today, even my wife remains clueless
because you do disappear -
time continues with two people aging together
our gray hairs streaking the basin in morning,
phone calls to the children later

by day I may dream another filthy furrow to fit into,
needing to glimpse again that flimsy past, and then
ponder glued joints of mortise and tenon
or half-lapped, passionless, the strongest, I’m convinced

we never found time to worry over furniture,
or learn that living is contained in mundane details
like dovetails and drawer pulls
2.1k · Oct 2013
Stacking Stones
Robert Zanfad Oct 2013
it's another autumn
migrating geese bark like dogs in distant clouds
marking their journey for earthbound creatures;
tree-crowns browning in rust
frame liquid skies neither of us reached,
though, our younger selves tried

from shelves of every Beatles' album ever made
organized alphabetically by noon after a vetted maid left;
we imagined rock stars strumming guitars,
turning our godawful poems into even worse lyrics
to make us feel important
in hungry aftermaths of disappointments

five star dinners cloistered within the entourage
of strongmen your father sheltered;
they would close restaurants for us
he spoke hushes of business from a stead at the head of table,
and broke men like you,
ordering salads made only from tender hearts of lettuce,
the rest set on plates of those less demanding

I remember blinking away teenaged intoxication like fever,
a world without rules for behavior,
a sixty mile drive to buy Italian hoagies in Atlantic City after midnight
because there was no one to deny an urge
to bend night to daylight; they reopened business for the son...
you knew they had no choice...

you showed me how to climb to my second story window once home again
leaving me hanging from the sill 'till Mom woke to let me in -
mind spinning, mumbling my drunkenness -
goodfellas never worry over consequences
she thought she hated you then,
I learned a measure of self-assurance

but there, in a too-small pup tent
you bought one summer by the sea
to work a job flipping burgers at the boardwalk for money
otherwise spent like water at the public shower
you bathed in

to be near any nagging mother
who set out an extra plate at dinner, because she secretly loved you, too
to be close to broke, dangling brothers like me
I felt the poverty of family

this morning I found the black suit and shoes in back of the closet-
abandoned search for lost yarmulkes that lived among mated socks
and wondered when my shadow disappeared
so many agos, this beard gray, time a dead skin I live in today

we'll lower a set of mortal remains into yet another Gethsemane -
under the cemetery canopy,
covering a carpet-rimmed hole still moist with yesterday's rain
I'll see the blue tent you sheltered in that season at the beach
feel closeness again as if there were no
intervening ocean of living between

there will be neither memorial service nor repast, after ...
only this
2.1k · Oct 2010
Next Neck, Please
Robert Zanfad Oct 2010
I find that chromium-vanadium steel,
while holding glimmer and shine
through much abuse,
is harder to hone
to that razor-like edge
that truly makes chopping a breeze
(watch the fingers, please),
merely mangling fine fruits
and tomatoes, instead.
(just tilt your head, thus)
It's a tool best left
for whacking at meat,
as its heft and its strength
make short work of bone;
more cleaver than scalpel,
if truth will be said.
I've always preferred
the high-carbon alloys,
though now out of fashion
in today's haute cuisine.
While rusting and blackening with age -
not the type you'd put on display -
the blades stay as keen
as the day they were minted,
and wipe down nicely on sleeves.
2.1k · Mar 2010
In Memory
Robert Zanfad Mar 2010
In Memory of a Good Man

He walked the path he knew so well
To the garden he kept
Which was were they found him
On cold ground in

They thought he likely slipped and fell,
Curled up tightly and slept
Snug in blankets of snow.
Where else to go
To dream

Of rich soil, a man's hands once strong
That could coax new life from
A yard of glass shards, bricks
Growing God's gifts
To share.

Or concrete towers only drawn
Those hands that once built them
Spinning the webs of steel
That made dreams real

Smiling face that may still know me,
We'll just sit together
While I'll hear your stories
In memories -
No words.

Silently gaze and nod slowly,
Stare at one another.
Tired eyes tell where you've been
My dear sweet friend...
In dreams.
Copyright 2008, Robert Zanfad
2.1k · Sep 2010
Dried Flowers
Robert Zanfad Sep 2010
the azalea grew there
twenty years,
its grey body now
but scratchy bones,
browned blossoms
to ponder
until someone with courage
pronounces it over

cuts barren spines down,
and mulches the ground
with faded smiles
aged between pages
found saved in a shoebox
string-tied tight in darkness

will we still want spring
when we remember
our missing fuchsia
or discover
a new color to admire,
forget it ever was,
as we’ve manged
to forget laughter
in passionless winter
2.0k · Jan 2010
Crafting Sparrows
Robert Zanfad Jan 2010
Desperate these words,                          
Chasing fleeting shadow,                      
Echoes flocking like birds                
Amid myriad distortions,
The unquiet mind's sorrow.                
In birth chosen for sweetness,                    
A bid for attentions of one                        
Soon fade mere whispers,                        
Weak and defeated tomorrow,                
Exhaled anguish unheard.                        
Written lines would have best
Been spoken in ears years ago
'Ere time flowed its course,
When ever softer verse
Might shimmer
Then a symphony,
Maybe able
To drown life's other sounds
Like Mozart, loud as one can turn up.
Would there be any remedy
Which relieves burdens of memory...
The music of dulcet strings
Does dull stings, still only temporary;
And since abandoned,
Thoughts of more ultimate things.
So still, some poet's quill
Crafts dreams into sparrows,
Sets fluttering free
Their unnatural wings
To sing a song of regret,
Share madness with the winds.
2.0k · Sep 2009
An Eleventh of September
Robert Zanfad Sep 2009
This was my sand yesterday,
Hot and gritty,
Yet comforting, embracing
Under my towel.
Troves of precious shards of shell
Mapped into mind
With the jellyfish abandoned
By the tide
Just out of reach of cool waters
And a pool carved
With ramparts and towers,
An ambitious child's construction
Proudly pronounced eternal.
But we took pictures
To remember,

Now, after breakfast,
Into blue too perfect
This morning's sun rose
To a sky spilled
Cloudless and clear
Over new land
Reformed by night swells
Gulls and terns blown on,
Friends' footprints cleared,
The castle lost
By waves or wind's gusts.
It seems alien now.
My toes dig ever deeper
To discover if warmth
Is still here, hiding below
The surface of what I can see.

Morning's winds fling
Biting bits chipped
From far-off mountains
Cheek and legs sting
In force of anger born
Far offshore,
While the children nestle
My jacket for shelter
It can't give them today.
The tourists left - the sand is ours
To reshape, imprint with feet again.
And plan for tomorrow -
Umbrella, blanket, pails,
Embrace sea's eternal rhythm.
We'll stay.
1.9k · Dec 2010
Elegy for a Lost Friend
Robert Zanfad Dec 2010
land’s become copper and rust
but for a few golden strands
of heavy-headed grass
spears tall, yet avoided harvest

appetites of roving deer
will soon consume them, too,
overcoming fears, that gray-band
of asphalt they dance against

they stand silent, await frost
certain to repaint the place
as cotton clouds, my breath,
remind the lie of endless life
clutched fast in cold-numbed limbs

this web of brittle bones,
like the huddled trees outstretched,
is tossed in bitter winds
and in there I lost your face

the body stooped and shuffled away
with never a backward glance
taking our childhoods with you,
old man
1.8k · Sep 2013
Robert Zanfad Sep 2013
It was cold last night.  Grandma’s homemade crocheted afghan wasn't long enough to cover foot to nose. It had too many holes where hugs should have been woven. Numb toes woke first in hollow shoes, dancing and eager for morning to come. I ignored them.  But a filled bladder proved too much to pass, so I rose to *** in the paper soda cup I’d saved for the purpose. Now, hours later, the sun is shining, burning our condensed breathes from the windshield. It’s warm again.

We’re both hungry again, too. The yorkie yaps his need in time with mine:

“Let’s eat.”

“Hush! Wait, “ I say;

“Gotta check our balance.”

As if He were listening... no reason to draw attention of passersby to out position inside.

There’s not much left in my pocket; bank’s closed ‘till tomorrow.

Yesterday’s highlight was our dollar store lunch for which we gave thanks:

cold, fat-pocked, vacuum-packed salami between pale, tasteless crackers. The biscuits came in a shiny mylar bag which I found more fascinating than than its contents, even on an empty stomach.

All that for two dollars. No tax. A deal.

The disks of sustenance were ringed in pink plastic which pulled away easily from the soft, greasy “meat”. Dog ate meat, accepting crackers, seemingly, as a reluctant favor when the flesh was finished. I didn't mind sharing salami. The texture of crunchy crackers was better, no matter how wanting for flavor they were.

I thought of the animals from which the label claimed the slices were made: chickens, pigs and cows; lives awaiting harvest to an unknown and grander purpose. We’re not so different. Dog, me, living only in cages of different sizes. From enough distance, who would know?

Just before - they cried with horror. I might, if I were looking. I don't.  It’s nice that weeds and wheat don’t weep. It makes it easier to eat them. God prefers blood but I could never understand why. I used to stare, silent, at stars for the answer, printed words found lacking. But, for certain, we like ******, we just give it different names so it tastes better. Like hamburger.

It is Sunday.

Better dressed,  I could be in church reading words, pretending to sing hymns, eating His flesh. That has always had the form of torn shreds of bread because He’s been dead forever, and now fat free. The blood of wonder, still sweet and fruity in tiny plastic glasses, is not the thick congealing kind like mine or dog’s.  There's a reason to look forward.

(I'm too slow to block blows and can't see up-close without glasses anymore. So she always goes for my eyes first. It doesn't hurt. Machines wear out - they don't feel pain. But I still bleed -it stains the torn shirt.)

Jesus doesn’t allow dogs, so we sit outside and imagine grace behind the colored glass. At least I do. Dog can't read and prefers to scratch the grass. Besides, he might ***. They say He cried, too ... just before harvest. Jesus should have had a dog.

There will be a call later, as always. We’ll go back of habit, pretend mind storms are over. We’ll get warm again. Eat real food again. Get another broken finger or whacked on back of the head by a random household implement. I won’t flinch; just wait like another chicken or man. We’re cursed in knowing our ends. Dog licks my hand. Jesus might understand.
1.8k · Dec 2013
Pollute Me Please...
Robert Zanfad Dec 2013
just a little bit o' asbestos
unwrapped from 'round the pipes,
yellow-green arsenic soap
in the bucket to make me clean
to eat... sump'n to munch on
like crunchy lead paint chips
and oh, how i love the smell o'
greasy diesel dip -
it reminds me of my last birthday
when we ate my smoggy cake
the kerosene ran dry that day
and smoked us to the street
our tummy aches that time forsake
'cause doctors cost real money.
but, hey, no choice in winter
- Obamacare or heat -
couldn't type his site with frostbit nubs,
no matter what the hype.
life ain't free,
so as fer me, i doctor fer myself
hell, in 50 years i've seen nothin' yet
some bourbon wouldn't fix.
but never in this tidy place we come to call our poverty
has ever lived the lovely stench
of crisp, green, perfect money.
I read that money pollutes societal interactions...
Robert Zanfad Oct 2013
useless, this skyward nightblind stare
was it there, from lost flecks of  stardust
that God wrought
this species of heroes and heathens?
these eyes don't see much anymore

I've tired of my own sophic nonsense,
pretenses ****** to any screed that might buy words
to publish under slews of anonymous names...
real life is not vague
we chew it, hard crusty bread

before dinner, my own fingers rummaged deep
planted within loose root shards, chewed chicken thighs, other things
we've eaten,
ever since days as young children...

Our Father consumed simply

like a banged and dented '57 Chevy
adorned pretty with loose bananas and oranges
freed from paper cartons,
his rusty wrenches tucked in my toolbox
built solid, still colorful, if not as useful anymore;
a ***-stained carpet too good to throw away
left to rot in the driveway; I called a tow to haul it all

Oh my Brother...

when it rains
I drown in his rolling wheelchair
and rubber-tipped canes, set out plastic buckets

... and I think to drink them in...

the stories of glory or warning,
conquests and war,
apple pies left to cool on a sill
awaiting harvest by the bravest soldier

gifts of old shot glasses saved in the cellar
(I drink from the bottle)
a box of fine cedar from the back of the closet
(though odor not telling, for a decade at best)
more stories...

but still
we're both grown men now, and safer for past efforts,
the lawn neatly mowed if not always ****-free.

does it matter?
winter's soon coming.
what could it save me?

it's a cold wind -
in time enough, some men
newly minted, will gaze inward - outward, too
search for food left in the pantry
the paltry stocks I put up:
canned spaghetti, dollar store crackers, salty powdered soup mixes...

they'll wonder whether a father ever listened
cared enough to spout useful advice...
weigh one heathen,
the *** who wrote poems only for himself
1.6k · Apr 2010
Robert Zanfad Apr 2010
Ditch diggers don't write poems -
As if there might be found
A single thought  profound
Amid the mud they go in;
The pungence in essence released
From trees' roots that are severed
Is never fragrant like lilacs,
And their labor is of purpose,
That dirt removed by aching backs -
Gashed earth becomes the grave
In which our sins can be hidden;
Tomorrow ditches will be filled in,
Restoring peace which land craves,
The simple laborer's work done.

Ditch diggers don't write poetry -
Palms calloused in pick and *****,
Too rough when art 's to be made,
Remain convinced by sophistry
They've no true claim to a pen.
Clods of clay always remain
Adhered to heels of workmen's boots,
Becoming my life's defining metaphor.
So we forgo more ethereal pursuits,
Though forever treasuring sweetness
Flowed over soil of our dank holes,
Loving breaths exhaled from souls,
Floral kisses blown across distance.
1.6k · Mar 2011
Guarding the Roses
Robert Zanfad Mar 2011
Edgar Allen settled evenings in the room at the rear
at a desk by the window where he could hear
breeze-rustled sycamore leaves sleeping
behind the neighbor’s house next door

through night’s florescent blue moon light,
its mist through low leaden clouds
he imagined the phantom he named Lenore,
and remembered lost Annabelle Lee  
amore he'd left laid alone aside a blackened sea

hers, the voice of a tree speaking, hushed,
like distant waves rushed upon shore,
faintly whispering heart-secrets
the ardent couldn’t keep evermore

was it she who sighed with love’s breathless lips
to flicker the flame of a tortured oil lamp’s light
the words born laboring children
with pen put in service to cover past rent,
refill an empty flask of verdant absinthe
for a nine-dollar-half-column poem -
fodder for fickle romantics to tear over
before a performance of Bellini’s new Norma

hardened, our modern hearts
fattened on diets of swollen bellies
that belie the dour misery of starving
they’ve grown sclerotic and cynical,
hungry for suffering flavored substantial -
a greasy disaster to stain the paper wrapper
enclosing depths of the human condition

sophisticates, we dismissed puerile appetite
for honeyed songs of longing,
the ornamented confections of jealous angels
old drunken poets sang
until dark full comes, alone, and we’re small again

then shadows still speak to starry skies
and fairy tales may come alive
to suspend belief with secret dreams
of the dear, lost Annabelle Lee
In an annual tradition that ended in 2009, a mysterious stranger would place three roses on Edgar Allen Poe's grave to commemorate his birthday.
1.5k · Feb 2010
Fixing the Fruit
Robert Zanfad Feb 2010
The flesh may still be fine...
One must just pare bruised
And bad spots away,
As a razor once excised mine.
A blurred mind mused
At the slowness of life
When it oozed,
Crimson's contrast
On pale skin,
Like paint
Escaped my palette,
Or red roses on canvas,
Mute shouts of color
Wasted in slick puddles
On the floor.
Red too soon fades sepia;
Wounds become scars,
Their hardness protects,
Forever reminds.
Though grown timid
Of assaults from steel,
Old psyche still yields
To lancet's probing,
Words released fall,
Now as drops to paper.
Copyright 2010, Robert Zanfad
1.5k · Oct 2009
Shiiva's Daughter
Robert Zanfad Oct 2009
Where the devil if not here
In the room with me.
In the kitchen
I slide
The chef's knife
Far back on the counter
To hide
Lest she loose control lost
Again, else
Might become real, that image
Now swimming
In her own soup,
Of a chromium-vanadium blade
Gleaming, swinging
In glorious swoop
Home to this chest or head,
Imagining it dead,
Tainted crimson.
Not the first time
I could be a toreador
Fending off his bull
With nearby chair
To save flesh from the goring
Of its horns,
On the way to salvation
At the door.
Still, animal rage
Stands between instrument
And shields awaiting at table
As they are meant.
A lamb, I once used my hand
And it hurt
When steel first broke skin.
Tears weren't
First from pain, but shock
Life was so real and cruel.
Since then the whys
Have grown with our lives.
One or other medication
Will fail to stop the sensation.
Now, my life's exhaustion is
In pondering the question:
Can the coward present neck
As easy offering and end it,
Or continue cowardice,
Facing  the goddess
Conspired to destroy
What once was me.
1.5k · Apr 2013
Sermon in Brown Paper
Robert Zanfad Apr 2013
he took my last quarter and dime,
pocket lint, the missing *****
of something I’d meant to reassemble
if I’d remembered or had time

then wandered off
rubbing shoulders with the sidewalk preacher
searching for signs of end times in rainstorms
or faint rumbles of passing traffic,
holding high his Good News
in a half-folded forecast for tomorrow;

this exodus -
across a patch of crabgrass
following a diagonal path of earth foot-worn
into a thin gray line defining the shortest distance
from his concrete corner to the door of the liquor store
justified a sacrifice of hours, the cold lies told:

lost wallet,
old mother,
car just out of gas

practiced to passersby or filling station patrons,
their rumpled tithes
reborn into an afternoon sermon
wrapped tight in brown paper
still warm with silent echoes of amen
1.4k · Jun 2012
Early, the Hour
Robert Zanfad Jun 2012
a soul breathes in morning darkness
worshiping the milkglass existence
of God’s naked syncopation

grasping at artifice written slow,
framed impossible
in time forgotten

my dream world soon stillborn
under the unsympathetic eye of sun rise
casting cruel a transformation
of imagined fertile bodies into dust airborne,

their amputated molecules
vibrating strangely in its light
flecks of white death,
mist of last breaths dissipating
to bequeath flesh a new day
1.4k · Feb 2010
Coming of Age
Robert Zanfad Feb 2010
Glass in my windows rattled
So furious was the birth.
Once over, peace more
Serene in face of wrath
We had seen.
All who saw regarded
In awe fresh beauty -
Time did stop, and sound.
We saw wonder in newness,
Familiar land transformed
To heaven's purity -
Then set out to to sequester innocence,
Sacrificed to our convenience.
We moved and pushed
Poisoned and cursed,
Rallied weapons to beat it.
So now Snow looks like us
Broken, finally defeated;
Grey, scarred and ugly,
Age taking shares by day,
Life by slow trickles
Ebbing away,
Long since lost of purpose.
Copyright 2010, Robert Zanfad
1.4k · Oct 2011
Once, We Picked Peaches
Robert Zanfad Oct 2011
autumn had been only imagined
lurking in small cracks between days,
paving heaved from fat roots underneath;
its arrival seemed improbable
in summer's heat

vernal green leaves grew only deeper
in generous sun,
promising some future harvest of fruit
far off distant, but sweet,
certainly, when it would come

cool, now, faded mornings break;
the pursuing season
sheds desires wizened,
of pages yellow-brown and finger-worn,
already memorized
as if being is cast aside in a child’s game
of loves me or loves me not,
youth’s clothing otherwise unneeded

they were, maybe, sins of greed
befallen all new living things
seeking moments owed but soon forgotten;
the scent of pink spring blossoms,
or how the peaches blushed in bunches
before we ate lustily from supple branches

how soon this winter comes
a tree’s hard woody bark will bare to needs,
extend dark arms, spindly, old
to splay against a field of gray
declaring stark existence to a callous sky
that stings with wind and cold
1.4k · Nov 2013
Robert Zanfad Nov 2013
these things are yours:
the leather sofas, paintings and mantlepiece chachkas
marked with pink post-it notes
that defined this houseload of secrets to outsiders

as I wrote glories for you in forced smiles garnishing
black and white stories for a world you craved
our home groaned beneath the weight

pink notes

they feel like garottes, the
crafty complaints to strangers
duly noted in a ledger somewhere...

I never noticed 'till now
that even our children have been plastered with them,
sorry little heads bobbing under their wires,
stiff armed puppets, like me
facing ruined toys or threatened death of a pet,
love served contingent like dessert after dinner

my powder blue lips were ever too meager to say anything

I suppose the sofa your cat peed
on is mine to sleep in,
though bleach wasn't enough to get her stink out
no chairs around my foldout dinner table

I never had a stack of blue paper to paste on furniture or people

my meager parts were abandoned by curbside at night:
clothing, computer, tools;
broken finger, blood-crusty nose,
bruised psyche;
memories of a mother and father;
old desk, contents drenched in murky wash water
treasures to be gathered in an Easter egg hunt
before morning

I'm *****, broken on the street
to live in the van again and *** in a cup

yet I elate in this paucity of things; it makes me lighter
I embrace its freedom
like when I used to sleep in park trees
to avoid river vermin, hungry
(yes, pate´ in Paris was divine - I ate the serving you’d have wasted )

or on train station benches with foul-smelling vagrants
you wouldn't understand that interaction …
this devil knows names, shared their bottles and pains
(the view of Prague’s rooftops from the castle veranda -
marvelous over glasses of wine and slivers of brie)

I learned hope is thin, frail skin, aetherial
my scars are hard, heavy, battle-earned wings that will never fly

as to things I do own:
love of self left after your half-portion spent;
poems scorned because
you never understood how they could be born without you

soon enough
we'll both be ashes or dust;
I’ll go in puffs
of swirling cigarette smoke and cheap bourbon
you under soil, I think
while words and our children
will both outlive the good sofa you sit on

I want them to be happy
1.4k · Nov 2013
Sitting with Green
Robert Zanfad Nov 2013
yeah, read an old poem again and remember sitting across a dark sticky table, pitcher of beer to wash down the fear of losing control. the guys told jokes - called them "brain droppings", like intellectual pigeon **** puked on the window -  but i was fighting not to get lost in the patterns of condensed water pooling from sides of the pitcher, laughing on cue because it seemed the right thing to do. i counted bright flashes, blue, a neon sign - froggy's bar open - for clarity, my fingers still melting into pencils at fine edges of the discussion. i carried a notebook to write in but nobody noticed. i thought i was a poet.

green sat there, slack jaw acid jockey, dead eyed silent fish out of water. educated somewhere. not here. it was hot. i think he'd had too much magic mushroom or that black sticky stuff we smoked in the bathroom that made me choke like a dying newborn, or maybe the pale colored microdot collage on paper rolls we all shared at a concert hall earlier. the humidity.

cool, man - i quietly pined for some brown-skinned chick away at college, home again but still not calling, so i wanted to forget my own name and split in some dime bag fog when the sugar slipped out over my lips; i spit, he didn't, i drank. green was hungry, brain-******, out of time, dreaming about some key lime trees in florida, ogres in fairmount's forests, the dealers from new york who wanted to **** us, then gut  laughed at something funny he saw in his sneakers. we hefted him by armpits to the stairs and left him there; it was too hot to walk all the way up to the flat's front door. green **** himself;  we left. green, by any other name, got lost like smooth longhairs on motorbikes, that girl, the pretend hit men from uptown, none of whom ever cared who i was, because i wasn't  really anywhere.  but i didn't realize green could fly. it was a secret he'd left on the pavement outside. i'd wished i could fly like green. but he died. i'm still here, bluffing i'm living.
inspired by memories and "Green Sees Things in Waves" by August Kleinzahler
Robert Zanfad May 2014
today we celebrated pain

crowds gathered in the close hole they'd made,
and, too, in fields where once were harvested
anonymous body parts and broken luggage straps  
and, why do they still need to remember that ...

sad birthday

he stares ahead, piercing the lens with blue eyes,
apparent youth belying ancients inside
uncertain how to smile yet,
the tie uneven around his starched oxford collar
there will be cake later, one supposes,
laughter of other children gathered 'round the table

the pretty brown girl in a pink dress
accepted presents from those who'd gathered -
maybe her mother set her hair in those loose braids-
her brown eyes brushed him, lips smiled
and newspapers said it was wrong
because it made too much fire, burned whole cities to the ground
he never saw her again


bobbing hens got lost in a wailing Hammond;
they'd missed The End
it was spring again then, like in Eden,
when, unashamed and perfect, her ******* danced with music
and a yellow rose was
pressed between their unused notebooks to mark the occasion
Mother was mad, and derided the prospect of pickaninny babies
taking seats at her fine linen-draped table
until everyone forgot once ... again


the New Yorker has finally canceled itself,
ever a meager meal, its offerings of pinto beans and metaphors
quickly swallowed in secret
in hopes that divine inspiration might ensue
as he picked ripened tomatoes and peaches, each in their seasons,
and ate of them lustily, too

and suddenly it's spring ...  again
but eyes weak and weepy,
his life lost in stone-walled sanctuaries that protected
imaginary pickaninnies and half-breeds
today accustomed to titles of "mister" or "ma'am"
because it's America, and at her own End,
Mother fell in love with so many other brown-skinned girls
it didn't matter anymore

Clayton leans on his push broom,
always remembers to smile
as he requests the odd bit of change
"if you can..."

the boy can't remember his own name anymore
nor her's
rubs broken dust with his black leather shoes,
wonders where they've been -
because bold hues loudly pronounced the arrival of spring again,
which revives nagging pain from the picture he'd saved
and not yet time for tomatoes or peaches
nor the pretty, brown eyed-girl, her pink dress and braids

which had always come and gone without celebrations
1.3k · Apr 2015
The Rarity of Dreams
Robert Zanfad Apr 2015
I let ivy try the trunk, green all winter
yet buds haven't come with warm weather
it'll rot and drop this summer
or next, if it's too dry

I'll pretend surprise
as I oil the saw again, strike teeth with a file
left on the old tool bench downstairs...
one last time, I think, as we're all showing our wear

it's still tall, met the sky once
when it left - I heard the sigh
but turned and went back to sleep
imagining nothing but cutting until morning
1.3k · Apr 2010
Robert Zanfad Apr 2010
i've come here to commit the quivering weak,
feeding scurrying beasts more reeking fodder
sentimental flesh no match for their razor sharp teeth
banging *** lids, stomping feet
hoping that rats near, feasting
on scraps and detritus will scatter amid bluster
before eyes dare to open - perhaps catch sight of things
that might scare us
our cans, never closed -
left always ajar, an offering of communion
lest they grow too hungry
gnaw through walls and come inside,
share foie gras with guests I'd hoped to impress
now seated and dining behind;
disgust them in sights of sins best hidden out back in the darkness
and leave fine linens soiled with meals yet digested

his body's been disposed before,
innocent specter resurrected by morning to fog up the mirror
reciting novenas as beads of his rosary roll in counts down its surface
never suspecting fate that awaits as night falls once more
daytime is easier, drowning sound
from his voice in symphonies of piano and strings
Mozart's or Mahler's  -
other things of distraction...
that aren't there to hide in when
sun fades and sleep, again, tries to invade
his figure repudiated, extracted
from a psyche dissected years ago, like a tumor threatening to grow
swallow the Now from which time's made.
in pretense of conversion for the moment,  i take his hand and lead him -
more fresh meat for the rodents
(even saints sometimes lie when they don't like the answers - they atone deception later)
he still cries when I leave him alone at the altar

a shaman shaking dried heads tied to a stick with palm leaves
promised mysterious potions that would strengthen the weak
reciting magical incantations expected to exorcise spirits within
for all those who believed
practicing his science of faith or faith in his science
for clients lined up at the door,
seeking doses of hope that he sold them -  returning each week for some more
but for those apostate, left to stare in the glare of florescent
humors never found balance in bloodletting
lancet nor leaches
the weakness of faithless was in never tasting the cure
or trusting tears could ever be wiped away by ice picks
he ****** deep in eye sockets, the sweet lies he told us
holes left in the soul could never filled by blue pills -
they couldn't reach there

missionaries positioned their ways
through that breach,
preaching a new theology requiring surrender
of my reliquary of cherished memories
as precondition for salvation,
discarding polished bones i'd kissed and prayed over:

Her precious pink t-shirt, coil of hair still stuck there,
though having no root it could never be proved
from whom it was groomed,
it was article of faith - who could dare question it;

the used ticket stub with date imprinted
indicating temporal evidence that
once something true existed
that i, too, felt part of;

words bound in a covenant sent by saints
in small pieces of lavender-scented mail
though having waited so long
faith in The Coming had wasted
and perfume, long ago, faded to imagination

and so, a soul abandoned all hope of redemption

a red rose rendered in oils
expressing devotion for eternity lost meaning
when it withered
watered by hope, as it was and forgotten;
our castle built on clouds came tumbling to the ground
when we looked up, stared at the sky;
the permanent brilliance of diamonds become mere stones in the garden
when sown from a window on high -
wealth for worms to covet and fight over,
though the fool still knelt to sift soil through his fingers
in search of lost sacrament
finally planting his hope
in the many graves that he'd made
otherwise, for forsaken,
faith is just hope not yet ready to die

then, there's the weak one i'll face in the morning,
likely still worshiping old bones and reciting from memory his ancient liturgy
when i let it, a cacophony of questions
can echo about paths never taken, and why some vows, not others;
and i wonder if there's a heaven for heathens when clocks cease their ticking
off nows that i try to live in
For the stout of heart who have made it to this end, wondering why they've wasted their time with obscurity and lunatic rant,  my apologies... the outburst felt good in its writing.
1.3k · Apr 2010
Robert Zanfad Apr 2010
twilight  piles its scorn on sun
dim where we usually live
not in light nor dark
just that in - between part
that's gray, which is real life,
now's life,
death's life,
not bright
nor black and white,
good nor evil
just civil;
but how drab it feels
not to drink warmth anymore,
those glows,
after wet kisses
after summer rain
caught us laughing
quivering skin
still remembering
blood lingering
thumping heart beats
her heart beats
my heart beat
beautiful, musical beats
two beings synchronized
recalling breathless copulations
replayed ever in imagination
as new days unfolded,
unencumbered by fears
our floors were never sterile enough
and must always be washed
just once more
because it's too hard to see
dirt in twilight
and real life,
real love,
is always messy
Robert Zanfad Jun 2014

on some dateless dawn
away from the mown swath at the edge of the road,
grass tall in the meadow, gold already and leaning, each piece seeming
to whisper some secret one might hear if close enough
as blades nodded in unison towards scrambled trees at the edge of the clearing

i  was a deer there, hiding, feral, eating secrets
for a moment then, free
1.3k · Sep 2013
On Reading Poetry in Public
Robert Zanfad Sep 2013
restless, the echoes have flown
beneath a poem's mortal remains;
like desperate ecstasy dancing loose,
their words feast on familiar nightmares

passing tongues painting ecstasy
on the mirrors I fear,
forging storms of **** mermaids and pearls,
or short-haired girls who charged the sky
for a time blossoming orange or lime,
shunning rhymes but still...
sang syllables as heartbeats,
swaying like ripe summer wheat
in time with a young life's breezes

none of which could have been real
a singular eye peering back
from a black and white, whiskey blind
... not mine...
his, the mind of a stranger who stole a name
and tomorrow more the same,
soon forgotten, but by then sober
1.2k · Mar 2010
Colored Blue
Robert Zanfad Mar 2010
Moving among those colors,
Shades of blue in green,
Listening to Miles explain
Living in between
Sun and rain
Where there's
Blues in yellow, too -
Hues of some old pain
That became a warm friend,
Embraced when awakened -
Familiar, slow and easy
As an understanding face.
Listening to Miles explain,
"So what?"
Comfort in the voice again
Who knows the color blue.
Copyright 2010 Robert Zanfad
1.2k · Sep 2010
Dusty Shoes
Robert Zanfad Sep 2010
Air fills with sharp shrills of jays,
the sounds
gratuitous warning
for feet adapted
to ground-
better directed
at a stray cat
that will dare limbs
in hope of his prize

dreamer's ears once heard
melodies of Verdi arias
through leaves,
their sweetness seeping
as from blue overhead
and imagination lured
to seek beauty in them

learning from too often falling,
wishes earning scars
that made skin numb and hard,
morning's music found muffled
by deaf cowardice,
its promise of safety
worn on gray,
dusty shoes
1.2k · Dec 2013
Radio Silence
Robert Zanfad Dec 2013
i drove into one of those famous tunnels beneath the Chesapeake
under a freighter that lumbered in its foggy distance,
still off about half a mile
i thought the kids might get a kick out of this experience
but they were busy in the rear view mirror,
snared in silent worlds of mini screen devices i bought to see them smile
there's only static on the radio now, like no more bourbon left in the bottle
and you're so quiet
this is my life - the thrumming dented van within a sterile white tile fortress,
ears on verge of popping
i hear humming tires, the thumps of each heart beat
trapped inside, heterodyned
1.2k · Feb 2010
Song for a Son
Robert Zanfad Feb 2010
I remember you from the dream
Face wet not with summer's sweat
When I awoke
Didn't think a man could cry

For the softness of a moon beam
Tomorrow's promises unmet
Death of hope
I'd see God in your eye

That day of autumn was to be
Farewell - unplanned and awkward
Two young lovers
Wrestling with goodbye

I tried to understand the need
To move life, career onward
But consoling prize
Under covers, soft thighs...

And you were wrought by accident
Tsar's serf and African queen
Triumphant, WE!
For the moment...

Then dire message from heaven sent
On lost souls' ether carried,
You were buried
And still my dreams you haunt

Post Script
I would like to dedicate this thought to Blaise Brown, poet, who passed away August 2, 2009. I regret he would only read the first two stanzas of the then unfinished work, and hope he would approve of the final form.
Copyright 2009 Robert Zanfad
Robert Zanfad Jul 2012
how often good Christians offer to hold us in prayer
friends of the ill, they intend well
I don't refuse, of course

Father catechized He was everywhere -
in flowers and butterflies, even all living things

so when He seemed never to notice the obvious

I'd squeeze my brow tight
as if the effort might shine invisible light
bright enough to be seen at universal distance...
my prayer

awaking mornings still cradled
safe in the branch of a tree
or folded in the back seat of our van,

in the dark, no more a devil,
even I've heard the whispered words
of "Our Father..."

but we both know Jesus gave up his practice
of psychoanalysis long ago
so I wasn't surprised - just disappointed
when each resurrection of hope died

now I'd rather mop,
having collected an assortment
of surfactants and disinfectants suitable
for a wide variety of household surfaces

killing the unsuspecting bacterium,
allergen or virus

I set blossoms in a sterile vase at bedside
by her arrangement of amber pill bottles
they'll wilt; I'll empty
a prayer she doesn't notice
1.2k · Sep 2011
Scene at the Beach
Robert Zanfad Sep 2011
as if by artist’s craft, that sky,
a painted bride blushing
her blaze of blistering crimson
like a blossom opened to
a blue black ocean’s kiss
colors bled in slender fingers
caressing wind-blown waters
and united, they melted into starlight
Robert Zanfad Mar 2010
Working here in the alley just off Thirteenth Street
I heard echoes of "Clara" amid soul-piercing sobs -
A woman shambled over, arms glued to her sides,
Empty hands holding invisible sand bags.
Tear-streaked, wet cheeks, still crying,
Paused, wailing "Have you seen my Clara?"
I wanted to help her, really I did
So pathetically lost, sad, hopeless and desperate.
Yet I answered with truth, "No, I didn't"
Who was this woman, and Clara, at that?
Maybe a child, wandered away ages ago,
Mother, gray, tormented, still searching...  
"Then *******", she yelled, shuffling away
Toward Thirteenth Street, unconcerned
She wore just one slipper for two ashy feet.
A simple reply could've tendered new hope
Of holding dear Clara
Before death finally stole her

Then an old sod danced his odd waltz,
Legs still unsteady, he stopped here
To water the wall -
Swore he knew me - two soldiers in 'Nam -
But I was too young.
Remarked my health must be failing,
He'd never seen me so pale, suggesting
Medicine from the brown bag he held.
He offered to hold the long ladder steady
So I wouldn't fall again like I did in Saigon.
"No!", I held firm, but we commiserated
Our hard times since then;
Dayday, and Niney, our friends
Never came back, though we see them
Sometimes in this alley.
Then Matty, my brother, stumbled away
In search of lost buddies in bottles of gin.

Tiki, so skinny, ever the beauty, insisted
We go on a date right there in the alley,
Grabbing my crotch to punctuate
Her proposition, as if words weren't enough.
I offered she was quite pretty, but then
"If only I wasn't married," I lied, so she settled
For the cigarette I lit for her instead;
Wondered when work would be done-
Get to business, making used condoms,
Repaving the alley just off Thirteenth Street.

Perched high on my ladder, I could just see
Distant Broad Street, latex expressions of love
No longer sticking to treads of my boot.
Out there on that corner,
A man from The Nation selling bean pies,
Ignored me for days when I passed him by;
Asked me this morning if I'd like to try
The healthy delicacy he'd held high to God.
I felt blessed, accepted, he addressed me.
Rastafari, camped on the other side,
Still passed out free samples of Passion and Bliss,
Names he gave to incense he wished
Would transform shattered glass and trash
Into the heaven his dreams said might be.
I wore his fresh gifts, sticks behind each ear
Perfuming the stink of stale *****, used condoms
And I wondered if they walked here, too,
Through this alley just off Thirteenth Street.
Copyright 2010 Robert Zanfad
1.1k · May 2010
Organizing Silverware
Robert Zanfad May 2010
I fear too much of life
Has been spent living in our
Mismatched silverware drawer.
While knives are always fine,
Never noticing much
What they might cut
Because they haven't sharp eyes;
So accustomed to close quarters,
They just lay there, as
Blind soldiers in wait of orders.
But I'm wary when they
Come out to speak,
Seeking blood, too often it seems.
Nicer when it's just
Butter must be spread
To warm toast instead.
Forks carry their own dangers.
In time, tines disentangled
From secret stainless dustups
That go on in the tray
While attention's drawn away
Can be wielded like daggers,
Impaling olives - or fingers -
That happen to fall in the way.
So painful, though rarely fatal
For those with shots up to date.
It's the others need worrying over;
Sad spoons that never nestle
As they did when they were new.
Uncomfortable now with one another,
Like wishes kissing cold lips,
Smooth hips never swaying to music
As they must have done once before,
Arranged in deranged patterns
In plastic compartments.
I'd rather take them all out,
Line them along the kitchen floor
For lessons in ballet or the samba.
I might learn to dance, again, too.
Sometimes, I wish we could eat with
The still-perfect gold set
We save for those who don't live here;
Drink fine wine every day from those
Dusty gilded glasses
Stocked in the corner cabinet.
It might feel more real then,
If they eventually get here...
We'd be prince and princess
Everyday, then, wouldn't we?
1.1k · Aug 2010
Counting Fireflies
Robert Zanfad Aug 2010
In somber autumn dreams
we watch as clocks melt,
time the illusion once felt
on a creaking porch swing
one summer somewhere

when fireflies held in our hands
transcended brilliance of stars
because we sat there together
hiding smiles in the dark,
believing there was forever
1.1k · Oct 2010
Robert Zanfad Oct 2010
I wonder ivy, ever green
embracing faces no longer seen
were better tribute to love immortal
than fragrant blossoms strewn on soil;

too soon they loose their hues, perfumes,
becoming dust like those they'd honor,
when life's the thing we thought was cherished -
then remind us only flesh will perish

but love attaches to the stars
and lives forever in our hearts
so never work to mark my path    
with stones nor earth, for they will pass,

erode of tears and sighs of heaven
that earth should suffer my disruption,
her milk I’d stolen might sequester
locked in darkness forever from her

rather, vest me in some far off light
that twinkles in the dark of night,
thy wistful eyes to visit there
and meet my love’s returning stare
1.1k · Mar 2012
Robert Zanfad Mar 2012
fresh tilled soil revealed phalanges of innocents
like chewed chicken bones, pointing or reaching
mixed with lost tree leaves that steel tines stirred in;
twigs snapped from limbs by some storm long forgotten,
skeletons left behind after picking the cotton

the Farmer sows afresh earth’s next crop rotation
seeds of winter wheat for bread we’ll be eating;
or grasses and sorghum for new cattle pasture
laid in shallow furrows with prayers for cover
a swaying anthem of living,
our losses forgiven by a harvest of summer
1.1k · Sep 2013
Dust Doesn’t Cry
Robert Zanfad Sep 2013
in that junction between summer green
and autumnal auburn skins
peaches dropped
their soft, burnt chins melting into ground
bearing teeth within like
quick-basted skulls reopened
or pages unread

the sugar’s been wasted,
a sin unexpected in spring
when first blossoms burst ...

like giddy children,
we would have us gathered ‘round early,
setting ladders, laughing to pluck ecstasy
and gods we might have been
or butterflies

not knelt so, the weight from this diet
of nameless hard words we’ve breathed,
boundaries woven into our clothes
worn to spite ourselves,
graceless beggars defeated

but restless, this:
echoes, now, of childhood and lovers,
friends who came and went as rain
another cold winter soon again,
the peaches we never picked
1.1k · Feb 2010
Ave Verum Corpus
Robert Zanfad Feb 2010
Last October I wandered a new trail
Leaves had begun to turn and fail
Some stillness 'tween the trees beckoned me,
"Come see"
But it was nothing new again
I had been there once before
So trod a little more
Familiar ground, green beards on rock
Crunching sounds, lichen liveried trunks
Can' t fathom still how
Solid earth let my body down
To stretch out flat, posed a corpse
In his leafy coffin, I suppose
Above, a blur of yellows, peeling
Paint drifting from the forest ceiling
Into slightly parted lips:
Ave Verum Corpus
Then remembering the cherished face
I yearned to see 'ere I leave this place
Copyright 2009, Robert Zanfad
1.1k · Apr 2010
Microdot Dreams
Robert Zanfad Apr 2010
Does magic pixie dust spring from Jimi's eyes
as we roll in microdot dreams,
shades lost,
counting blades of grass
as they wave to us
when heaven sighs
watching smart pebbles line
in formation like magic
marching to a psychedelic Sousa band
we can't quite hear
but know must be playing somewhere
'cause they, the pea stones,
keep amazing time -
'till meanness finds us on the ground
afraid the Sun has grown too hot
though we know it would not
play at night.
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