Her dog—let’s call him Beppo
for anonymity’s sake—
cradles like a stuffed toy in her arm
tonight, noiseless. In fact, no
one called on him. Did he also ache
to bark but fear that doing so might harm
his image? Well, it’s not our protocol
to call on man nor beast.
Something moves us
—or we’re not moved at all.
Frustration works us up like baker’s yeast,
an urge to rage muted to a fuss.
Some nights, myself, I’d like to bark
or, better, howl at the waning moon.
I’d turn this group into Noah’s Ark
listing on its last pontoon.
We ache for shore leave, to blow our cool.
Life is too much like Obedience School.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ONE NIGHT A WEEK?
At the end of the self-help rope
someone in our circle pours his guts out.
Someone else yawns
across this chasm of guilts—booze, sex, or dope
—and a million variations on self-doubt.
Something there is that on us never dawns.
Sow bears evict me from my own fraught dreams.
Hot wafts of soil-tinged camas-lily breath
pant steamy down my flimsy, fleeing neck:
She just dined on mule deer! I choke on screams
and cannot run.
The race would seem to be to death.
Islands adrift in a sea
we float, as sick as our secrets.
Guts spilled to yawns: Our circle rankles.
It won’t work, folks; extend your regrets.The sky can’t fall, it’s down around our ankles.
LOSING A SCAB
Deep pain screams plaintive on her face
like Frankenstein’s monster’s suture.
Her skin goes gray; bones flatten, you could swear.
It’s something she hangs onto, not especially
important on the cosmic scale. You can see where
soon she might complete her future.
Our topic is Letting Go: “Like losing a scab,”
someone offers, “it’s almost unconscious.”
—a psychic scab but what a freaking hunk.
Tell me the itch wears off. (Don’t mention pus.)
“Let go and let God.” Our little motto mottles, drab
beyond description. Here’s mine:
“Let go and let God
then let God go.”
We pretend not to confuse the kids. Equally odd
is hyper-religion. What a way to go!Witness the curvature of my spine.
Ed Zahniser has been published in over 150 literary venues in the US and UK, 10 anthologies, four books, and four chapbooks. Ed was a founding editor of Some Of Us Press, a poets press in Washington, DC, in the 1970s. He was formerly poetry editor of Wilderness magazine and associate poetry editor of Antietam Review. Since 1977, Ed has lived in Shepherdstown, WV, where he co-founded the community quarterly Good News Paper with Randy Tremba in 1979 and serves as its poetry editor. He is the author and/or editor and producer of many prose books. As a freelance editorial re-writer, he now specializes in museum exhibit texts and occasional books.