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Poems by Zero

Zero Sum

I am the one called zero
Always the ever-lost
The seeker for the way
Through disease and decay
Each morning the dawn warns
And the mirror reflects the living clock
Winding down, wearing away to gray
As trembling hands circle the dial
Masking time in safe routine

I spit on you false time
You exist to destroy me
Eroding my short life to dust
Tricking me out of eternity
Making me gullible to your death threats
The world cracks and lurches as faith quakes
I see the fault lines crease my face

But I will hold the balance
Laughing loud at these tattered clothes
No matter what the scarecrows cry
Time, you are a convincing lie
A catalyst for procrastinating souls
A school-bell calling the reluctant student back
To learn the unavoidable lessons


I trudge past melting clocks, watching time boil
While streaks of colored fire brush the pink sky
Over vast surreal checkerboard plains
Pieces lie strewn at apparent random
Giant cubes, cones--a fractal octopus
Frozen unicorns beside rusty knights
Too late to defend the checkmated queen
Above, connect-the-dot constellations
Flowers fall from a striated heaven
Each petal's bloom unfolding dimensions
As I step across the palette of hues
Perspective changes with each motion
Distorting vision, curling perceptions
Until I observe the floating picture frame
Inside is a pencil drawing of a face
A haunting familiar nameless face
Trying to escape from a flat world
A piece of art some call reality

Garage Sale

the dead man's suit was hidden on the rack
behind mountains of clothes thrown in a heap
hanging between a pink blouse and mauve dress
beside a sign with the words 'ALL MUST GO!'
the suit looked my size, and it seemed well-made
almost new, hardly worn -- for such a price
he died last autumn on halloween night
face-first in the bowl of candy kisses
that is how she found him, the widow said
who sat on a lawn chair in the driveway
in front of a battered wooden table
(also for sale) covered with clean ashtrays
of every description, as she cleared out
detritus of fifty years in one day
I tried on the suit jacket and it fit
as if it were tailor-made to my size
with only a small dark spot on the sleeve
and another slight stain on the collar
a good dry-cleaning should make it like new
she said he bought it just before he died
and only wore it once, a real bargain
a suit which would last over the long years
I didn't find it until I got home
inside the breast pocket was a bullet
a shiny, snubbed, and flattened little weight
the suit still hangs unworn in my closet
until it is sold at a garage sale


You are music of the harp by firelight
When smoke and sparks slow-dance across the stars
Inside flames--your strange eyes, in the second-sight
Stare clear through the guttering, burning bars
Chanting primordial songs of the soul
To the gust and swoop of wind-haunted fire
As timeless night spreads its vast starry bowl
So you unravel wound chords of desire
Until wild notes dance bare under the sky
Revealing the simple truth of the song
Hiding since childhood in the living lie
Now free of the dim veils of right and wrong
You sing of ancient lessons in each breath
And gaze without fear at approaching death

The Sound of Children

Hapless adults perch on solid green benches
Ringing the playground with watchfulness
While at the center of the small world
Children dig in the sandbox, moving the earth
As others run worn paths around a silver slide
Chase and tag--stop and protest broken rules
Debate the evidence, testify--then chase and tag
Excited shrieks of bursting pleasure drown
The whispers of the grinning little girls
Flashing their eyes at the defiant boy
Standing with folded arms, looking away
Pretending not to notice their coy glances
The air is filled with the wistful song
Of rusty chains creaking on the swing
A metal metronome keeping time
With the endless play of morning
As the boys and girls in bright colors
Arc across blue eternity
Touching the clouds with their toes
Cheerful liquid voices celebrate life
Blending like rushing wind and water
Baptizing my dark thoughts with the mercy
Of the sound of children

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Biographical sketch: I live in Castle Null, and stare at nothing from the battlements.

Nothing To Say

I have nothing to say about nothing
If I said something, it could describe anything
Anything but nothing--which is like
Nothing you have seen
Nothing you have heard
Nothing you have scented
Nothing you have tasted
Nothing you have touched
Nothing which you have ever known
And though I have said something
It is not the same as nothing
Since there is nothing like it

Zero recommends:

The Library of World Poetry by William Cullen Bryant

Reason: 400 poets, 19th century and earlier--very wide selection

Recommendations for writers:

Learn the language. Read a lot, especially poetry. Learn the craft. Then think, see, feel, and live like a poet. Remember, poetry is the only way to express the ineffable with words.


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