Bob Zisk describes his development as a poet as follows: Once I had thoughts (bordering on plans) to become a medievalist. However, I
abandoned Grimm's Law, fracturing, and their exotic comrades for some travel, a
brief stint in cartography, and finally work with community-based organizations
involved in neighborhood housing issues. I eventually did a few years as
director of technical services for the NYC Division of Homeless Housing
Development (RIP). During that time I wrote and conducted seminars for the NYC
Public Development Corporation and taught intermittently for Pratt Institute
Center for Community and Environmental Development. In those years I wrote some
poetry and short stories. I found that writing proposals and impact assessments
under insane deadlines and abominable working conditions stimulated my
dalliances with my muse. However, she was not a good girl, and most of my output
was trash. Lately age and the adjustments to it have entered my verse. As a kid
I wrote in meter and rhyme. In college and for a time afterwards I wrote in a
rhythmic free verse or in four-beat accentual lines. I also penned a few
alliterative poems, then gradually drifted into accentual syllabics, where I
seem to have taken up an extended residence. I remember that during a Horace
seminar we had read Milton's unrhymed translation of the Pyrrha Ode (1.5). I was
struck by its modernity. I also read the unrhymed verse in Campion's treatise,
and Coleridge's "conversation poems," from all of which stuff like "K. P. Lynch"
are descended—at least in my mind's eye.
Memories of Holy Ghost
Sitting here at the edge of Holy Ghost
I ache for all whom I have known and lost—
Lovers, friends, dogs who've flopped across my knees:
Lovely as sunlight on lean aspen trees,
They have warmed me, they have nourished me,
Washed me in the green leaf of memory,
So that now, on the rocks of Holy Ghost,
I sit awhile with them whom I had lost.
Originally published in the Quarterly Journal of Undiscovered Poets
There was a cup. Its rim was grass and twigs,
And in it were three tiny turquoise eggs.
Their mother was the soft-voiced hermit thrush,
And she was off somewhere in the thick brush.
After two days, at first light, I went back,
And found that little nest a shapeless wreck.
The twigs were scattered, and on a bent stalk
I saw some shell and a speck of golden yolk.
A thin, sharp rain began to fall, and soon
The tussled grass and sticks were all washed clean.
The gray air shone with a gold light, and birth
And death gestated in unmoving earth.
Sweet Old Fruit of Orient
My pretty peach, together we've grown old:
Your bark is peeling. Wind and rain and weight
Of snow and ice have bent your boughs, and cold
And heat have left
you in a frazzled state.
Yet you, my Persian apple, cover me
With shade and scent, and the moist juice and sap
From the dark umbra of your canopy
Speckle my shirt, stain the gloves in my lap.
I too am broken wood in time's fierce sack,
And all Spring's hue is faded from my hairs.
Death's weevils, small, voracious, chew my back,
And I am withered leaf among the tares.
My skin, like yours, is loose, and my limbs bend
And twist. These wounds are deep. They will not mend.
This wine is strong,
And I am no longer young.
Pink girls with honeyed thighs
My presbyopic eyes.
Yes, I am not wise,
But I know that beauty dies.
Listen: a coyote cries.
Falling snow tickles the trees.
Cicadas chirp in my knees.
My body aches, my belly churns,
And yet my heart’s longing suborns
This witness of leaking collagen
And this dry creak of bone on bone.
My neck sounds like an old washboard.
My knees rattle like a dry gourd.
All my bones say, “You are old,”
But I deny what I am told,
For it was only yesterday
That we kissed in the rose-scented May,
And, washed by the sun’s brilliant gold,
Thought lips and tongue would never grow cold.
K. P. Lynch
Last night I had a bearded visitor
Who came to me on wings of sleep. He passed
Through the arched Gate of Horn, and spoke to me
Of farewells and the final rites of death.
His heart was weighed against a feather's burden,
And on that scale heart proved as light as justice;
Yet when I tried to query him, he rose
Up and vanished on a shapeless wind,
And currents in the river of our death
Cleansed the whispering channels of our loss.
Hail and farewell, brother. Hail and farewell.