Three Poems by Thomas Zimmerman

Deep Montana

We’ve stepped into a pool of silence. Deep
Montana. Haze from distant fires. High
up there, above the tree line: speck of white.
A mountain goat? A patch of snow? Won’t know
unless it moves. We’ve eaten huckleberries,
thimbleberries, heard we could survive
on old man’s beard in dire times. We’ve seen
a black bear flipping stones along the shore
of Waterton. Bald eagle. Osprey. Bighorn
rams have butted heads before our eyes
at Logan Pass, the sound a muted gunshot.
Later, ewes and kids, fifteen or twenty,
trotted past us at Two Medicine.
As if we needed proof that we were healed.


Don’t miss your life while it gets lived. Sounds trite,
but my insight is clear as beer these days.
Career’s become at times like digging ditches.
Lots of grind, as if a sorcerer
had turned my witch into a hoop and left
me chopping wood, my dreams reduced to ravishing
his daughter. Yes, that play’s too tired. Instead,
let’s try black coffee and a sturdy symphony,
say Beethoven’s Pastoral. And crack
the window. Breeze is cool, the spruces taller
than the house and whispering of things
we don’t have language for. The cones like turds
or sausages upon the mulch. A matter
of perspective. Let’s say to even bad seeds: “Sprout!”

Naïve and Sentimental Sonnet #4

Our half-remodeled house looks like a Roman
ruin. Shostakovich Seven’s on
the stereo. Porch columns lopped off at
the waist. The bones exposed. A wartime symphony.

But then comes reconstruction. Memory’s
like this. I’m drinking huckleberry-flavored
coffee, razing sensory perceptions
quickly—quickly building pasts that I,

that we, can cope with. Spruce trees in the backyard
keep their green all year. Last week, a former
student, now a colleague, told me that

I hadn’t changed: “This life is genre exercise,
and death is just a failure of
imagination.” Wish I’d said this. Wait, I did.


Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits The Big Windows Review at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. His poems have appeared recently in Blood & Bourbon, Brickplight, and Visceral Uterus. Tom’s website:

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