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Category archive for: Matthew Zapruder

What Can Poetry Do

In Africa people are angry.

They are climbing embassy walls

and burning whatever is there.

Each time I click on some words

and read what we call news

I feel certain some people

while I was reading have died.

I know I am here merely reading.

I just sit in my room and worry.

As always I can do nothing.

So I close all the portals and go

deep in my mind to discover

something about Tunisia.

Tunisia of desert silence

broken by occasional battles

where a man set himself on fire

then revolution then elections.

Tunisia whose cosmopolitan

capital city Carthage

the Romans completely destroyed.

Tunisia where they filmed

the familiar home planet scenes

of the space movie we all stood in line

a million years ago to see.

I don’t know anything else.

Now I remember something

I once read about the forests

people are carefully growing

far from the capital city.

The trees are eating the poison

probably much too slowly.

But still they take the particles

and even if we don’t deserve it

our air is a little clearer.

It’s like the painting I saw

of a witch in the forest

her hair in a black column rising

like smoke from a burning structure.

She was dragging three or four ropes

the color of umbilical blood.

She was guarded by her wolf familiar.

At first she terrified me.

Then I saw she was causing

certain spells to protect

far away new mothers

whose children must in the middle

of great violence be born.

The men surround the embassy.

It will never be clear who sent them.

For a moment I feel ashamed.

I breathe the clear terrible air.

from Sun BearFind it in the library

Copyright © 2014 Matthew Zapruder
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Albert Einstein

only a few people

really try to understand

relativity like my father

who for decades kept

the same gray book

next to his bed

with diagrams

of arrows connecting

clocks and towers

in the morning

he’d cook eggs

and holding

a small red saucepan

tell us his tired children

a radio on a train

passing at light speed

could theoretically

play tomorrow’s songs

now he is gone

yes it’s confusing

I have placed

my plastic plant

in front of the window

its eternal leaves

sip false peace

my worldly nature

comforts me

I wish we had

a radio sunlight

powers so without

wasting precious

electrons we could listen

to news concerning

Africa’s southern coast

where people with giant

colored sails

are trying to harness

the cool summer wind

with its special name

I always forget

last night I read a book

which said he was born

an old determinist

and clearly it was all

beautiful guesses

and I watched you knowing

where you travel

when you sleep

I will never know

from Sun BearFind it in the library

Copyright © 2014 Matthew Zapruder
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Poem without Intimacy

the other day I was shopping

in one of those giant incredibly brightly lit stores

you can apparently see from space

wheeling a massive empty cart

thinking this is a lot like thinking

why do I go to sleep

not having brushed my teeth and dream

of the giant failure

known as high school again

on the loudspeaker was a familiar song

by Quicksilver Messenger Service

there were no lyrics but I remember

it says we are all skyscrapers

under one blue rectangle

that never chose us

to be these sentinels

who imperceptibly sway

and watch people far below

like tiny devices no one controls

enter our various sunlit glass conversations

the world is old

and full as it will always be

of commerce and its hopeful nonprofit mitigations

future products from the Amazon

will cure ailments we have

and also ones not yet invented

looking down I saw my cart was full

of a few boxes of some cereal I do not recognize

four flashlights and a pink plastic water bottle

made of some kind of vegetable

that will eventually like me into the earth

harmlessly decompose

and then I passed an entire row of plastic flowers

and wanted to be the sort of person

who bought them all

but really I am a runway covered in grass

and all I truly love is sleep

from Sun BearFind it in the library

Copyright © 2014 Matthew Zapruder
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Poem for Happiness

the dead spider rested on my windowsill

using one piece of paper I pushed it

onto another piece of paper

then dropped it accidentally

behind some old paint cans next to the door

the orange tulips you gave me

for a second seemed to be in a mostly nice way

laughing as I bent down

wearing dishwashing gloves a blue

color not found in nature

in order to find the little brown body

that was for primal reasons

horrifying me and stand in the doorway

and hold it out in front of me

to the wind which even if everywhere else

in the city it is calm

rushes down our street

where the yellow Kawasaki is always

parked next to the green bin

I threw the candles we can’t light anymore

into because their wicks are gone

and you cried because

I had thrown out the beautiful candles

the sun turns in a different direction

everything becomes suddenly chrome

and now I am thinking on a hillside

where the wind is blowing very strongly

we will get married

our future a long sunny avenue

we have already walked partway down

or a pink umbrella

or a very loud water feature

in the middle of the city

around it on a concrete ledge

the workers sit next to each other

even though they do not know each other

and read silently together and alone

from Sun BearFind it in the library

Copyright © 2014 Matthew Zapruder
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Your Eyes Are the Color of a Lightbulb Floating in the Potomac River

Just when it is time to say goodbye

I think I am finally understanding the lightbulb

but not milk or NAFTA or for that matter paper money

let’s not get into my stove top coffeemaker

I don’t even get how this book is fastened or why that orchid

seems happier or at least its petals a little whiter

when it is placed right up against the window

or how certain invisible particles

leave the wall and enter the cord and somehow make

the radio make the air become

Moonlight Sonata or Neighborhood #3

basically a lamp is a mechanism

to shove too many electrons into a coil

or filament a lightbulb i.e. a vacuum surrounds

the first filament was made in 1802 out of platinum

as soon as it was made to turn deep untouchable orange

the air took the electrons away

which left it charred like a tiny bonfire

just like ones we have all seen when we squint and hold

the glass bulb that no longer emits

soft white light when we flip the switch

I wonder if my fear this morning sitting in the dark

and listening to music is anything like

the inventor of the telephone growing deaf

and knowing all those poles and wires

were starting to cover the land and someday everyone

would be able to get exactly what they want

from Sun BearFind it in the library

Copyright © 2014 Matthew Zapruder
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Poem for Wine

I don’t drink wine

much anymore

though I love that not

feeling feeling

of not remembering

having pressed

the giant translucent

anxious button

in my chest

that turns

something I don’t

know the name of

off and a pure wise

hilarity vector among

the conversation clusters

I float bestowing

my sometimes speaking

at others just silently

sparkling full of potential

energy presence

and later I remember

I have always been

an exiled prince

who could but has not

chosen yet to return

to govern my fully

adoring people

I’ve also never

taken Ecstasy

then sat on a couch

in Peru 14%

excited licking

a hot person

dressed like a rabbit

I do remember

analog porn

somehow holding

an inevitable magazine

always feeling

without knowing

how to say it

true ecstasy

would be to stand

above myself protecting

me as I turn

those sudden blessed

horrible corners

from Sun BearFind it in the library

Copyright © 2014 Matthew Zapruder
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

It Is Tuesday

From room to room

after you left

I wandered a while

in the hours

I have cooked

the mushroom soup

as instructed

picked up a paperback

I once read

but forgot

had some coffee

it is quiet

I don’t know why

all afternoon

I think of you

in the traffic

the rain

peacefully falling

like some plastic beads

from the ’70s

when they took all the doors

off the closets

and our parents smoked

all night downstairs

and laughed too loud

we couldn’t hear

what they were

and what they knew

if you hate me

it must be

for ancient reasons

from Sun BearFind it in the library

Copyright © 2014 Matthew Zapruder
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.