thomas zimmerman

Stars Adorn Our Ankles
after Kurt Brown

Magnetic is the dark abyss, and strong
the wind on northern plains, the land so flat,
the sky so big that, nights, the stars adorn
our ankles. “Veils of topsoil,” reads a poem
I wrote in North Dakota, dancing black
and naked for the plaid-backed farmers. You
were lying on that hotel bed, in shock
on our arrival, TV chained against
the ceiling, stars around its ankles. Blue
as atlas interstates, crabbed veins adorn
my ankles now, and so much laid out flat
behind, beside, in front, inside, of me:
my mother grown into a hoop I keep
on jumping through, my father’s eyes the earth
so torn it blurs the far horizon line.


The craven, spawn of crow and raven, new-
moon black and belfry-baleful, croaks its caw,
invokes its spell: suburban petting zoo
has morphed to devil’s ark, inverted law

of nature breaking and re-forging links
in food chains and in DNA to shape
a monster’s haven. Smoke-plumed emus gape
at our adopted greyhound: duped, she thinks

them prey. The cat that haunts the gift-shop aisles:
a witch. That billy-goat, all piebald yang
and yin: he eyes my wife and starts to bang
his horns against the guano-spattered stiles…

The craven calls again. It’s only fear
that makes us weak. Or is it life, so near?

Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits two literary magazines at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor MI. Poems of his have appeared recently in AntiphonThe Petrichor Review, and The Flea.