Copyright © 2016 James K Zimmerman. All rights, including electronic are reserved by the author. Included on by permission of the author.

Three Poems by James K. Zimmerman, an award-winning poet and Pushcart Prize nominee.  His work appears in The Evansville Review, Confrontation, Atlanta Review, Nimrod, The Bellingham Review, Vallum, Kestrel, The Cape Rock, Oberon, and The MacGuffin, among other periodicals.  Zimmeran is the author of “Little Miracles” (Passager, 2015) and the upcoming "Family Cookout" (Comstock, 2016), winner of the Jessie Bryce Niles Chapbook Prize. Recipient of The Cloudbbank Poetry Award, the Hart Crane Poetry Award, and the Daniela Varoujan Poetry Award, he lives near New York City with is wife, Jan. He has been a singer/songwriter, music producer and has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.


if velociraptor became crow
hawk, and vulture

ostrich and emu trace

their lineage to apatosaur
pterodactyl precedes albatross
and triceratops has seeds
of parrot and macaw

when was the decision made

with gentle archaeopteryx

to guide them on their journey
through seething infernal millennia

to take to clouds instead

of tangled jungles, thunder lizards
that they were, and when
did pinion feathers first awaken

on shrinking haunches?

if paleolithic footprints
of trees and reeds they ate
bodies left behind and those they

swallowed whole sustain us now
in black dust of anthracite
malodorous muck, lethal gases

how should we thank
those monsters of a mythic past

of roiling seas, a broiling sun
too powerful for us to bear?

in homage, we blanket land
and throttle seas with undying
polystyrene and polyethylene
transmogrified remains of ancient

kings of planet Terra, distillation
of the legacy they left to us

in sacrifice, we rape our earth
to bring their sacred lifeblood
              to the surface

in adoration, we fuel our cars

warm our homes, push our climate
closer to the one they knew

in litany, we reconstruct
the daily struggle of their lives
in the violent hunger
              of our own

perhaps this is the humble expression
            of our gratitude


“the falcon cannot hear the falconer”
                                  – W. B. Yeats

suddenly there you are
ruddy arrow in the silken blue
           kite without a tether
graceful measure of the wind
hatchet blade in a spiral gyre
uniformed in classic brown and white
each feather in its place

watch me now you seem to say

as you soar even higher still
fire dancing on the tree tops

            no thought of a net below
one eye to the ground and the
stuttering shiver a mouse makes
each day on its way to work

you know I have no hood
to shield your blade-sharp eyes
no rope to bind you to my
supplicant outstretched arm
no glove to keep your talons
from flensing my featherless flesh

so I know when I ask do you see
             the manbeast
the sulfurous stench slouching in
with oil-slicked hair to rot the earth
from the center to the rim

                                     and I ask
has it darkened the horizon yet
               tell me is it nearly here
I know you have no need to hear me
               you have no need to answer
as you spiral ever closer to the sun



Cherry Creek is valiant
in the effort to remember
the course it is told to take
between boulevard and bike path
           bike path and mall

the hot breath, the stolid torsos
of Target, Hilton, Conoco,
and Taco Bell lean in
like bouncers at a biker bar

along the shore, willows
scratch their brown heads
in vague confusion, eddies
chase their tails among the rocks

one step closer and the stream

                  will die

even now, evidence
of immunosuppression:

bottle caps, blade-sharp
shards of a Heineken, stub
of a Te Amo, crumpled
pack of Camels, butt
of a joint, Snickers wrapper

snarling emphysemic
impatience of a line of cars
muscling each other out
of the way at the traffic light


yes, dear, I won’t forget
the mayonnaise a guy says
on the phone on a Schwinn
while the earbuds of another
can’t contain the beat of gangsta

rap as he swaggers by

but look:

            take the hidden path
part the curtain of underbrush
a tumble of boulders, tangle
of branches, Walmart shopping
cart left behind by the rush
of snow melt last spring

to the jagged edge of the water

and see:

           the rump of a muskrat diving
for safety in a discarded tire
hoofprint of a doe in the muddy sand

and listen:
            Cherry Creek singing
just loud enough to drown
all but the howl of a Harley
rising from the overpass