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In Memoriam: Paul Zimmer

Four poems from the San Diego Reader Poetry Editor

In Memoriam: Paul Zimmer

  • I. The Visit
  • For Paul and Suzanne Zimmer and Cele Wolf
  • With sunlight pouring through the windows, March
  • Retreats and winter’s windy shadows shake
  • The shadows’ fruit from changing light. The lurch
  • And sway of barren limbs (no leaves to speak
  • Within the secret ear of spring) now cast
  • Their shadows through the room. We visit there
  • And lunch on whiskey’s fire – a sip, a taste,
  • Enough to warm remembrance with desire.
  • That afternoon your visit was a gift —
  • To know that spring came early and put
  • The bloom of meaning to books and birds.
  • Our host, the town’s librarian, had laughed
  • To think that here the dance of drink and thought
  • Had found a way with words — a way to words.
  • II. Soldiers Grove Stanza
  • In Soldiers Grove, the Kickapoo has
  • Entwined among its piney banks
  • Both shady forms and greening mythos;
  • Both take as motto: “Thanks–no thanks!”
  • Where once the village taverns numbered
  • In double-digits, floods encumbered
  • The pour, and city fathers moved
  • To move the village. Once approved
  • The people cast their lot with science
  • To capture solar-paneled fire
  • On half a hill. Now higher and drier
  • Than shining bottled self-reliance,
  • Our thirsty tongues can yet recall
  • How shadows made the sunlight fall…
  • III. The Kickapoo
  • For Bud and Katie
  • A staked-out country rises up to stand
  • With true inhabitants. The native state
  • Of things is such that hope can immigrate
  • From ignorance to undiscovered land—
  • Beyond the claims that sinking fortunes spend
  • On river silt. The hand imagines it
  • Before the mind can hold its rich deposit,
  • Or reckon miles of it by heart.
  • The wind
  • Can speak such fluid poetry. Its sound
  • Can bend the Kickapoo with Jesuit
  • Canoes. As chalice rests with calumet,
  • A rambling river seeks to understand,
  • Its shifting banks, bowed like divining rods,
  • To tap into the common ground it floods.
  • IV. Blessing for the House of Zimmer
  • You were born of water’s hospitality
  • And made your presence felt in all the corners
  • That left the wintering shadows reeling.
  • Not everything that falls to grave and floor
  • Returns to dust — some things arise, sometimes
  • Derived from sullen rains and salted fields,
  • And ancient ways renew themselves, a floor,
  • A foundation, wall and roof – a little bit
  • Improves the lot and a bit of clearing waits
  • For sunlight’s touch as gold that touches myth.
  • Such is hunger, such is danger, such is greed.
  • But Word and Meaning bear their child, A Gift—
  • So three gods now come to introduce a hope:
  • Where sunbirds sing, the rain won’t dare to speak.
Joseph O'Brien

Joseph O’Brien is the Poetry Editor for the San Diego Reader.

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In Memoriam: Paul Zimmer

  • I. The Visit
  • For Paul and Suzanne Zimmer and Cele Wolf
  • With sunlight pouring through the windows, March
  • Retreats and winter’s windy shadows shake
  • The shadows’ fruit from changing light. The lurch
  • And sway of barren limbs (no leaves to speak
  • Within the secret ear of spring) now cast
  • Their shadows through the room. We visit there
  • And lunch on whiskey’s fire – a sip, a taste,
  • Enough to warm remembrance with desire.
  • That afternoon your visit was a gift —
  • To know that spring came early and put
  • The bloom of meaning to books and birds.
  • Our host, the town’s librarian, had laughed
  • To think that here the dance of drink and thought
  • Had found a way with words — a way to words.
  • II. Soldiers Grove Stanza
  • In Soldiers Grove, the Kickapoo has
  • Entwined among its piney banks
  • Both shady forms and greening mythos;
  • Both take as motto: “Thanks–no thanks!”
  • Where once the village taverns numbered
  • In double-digits, floods encumbered
  • The pour, and city fathers moved
  • To move the village. Once approved
  • The people cast their lot with science
  • To capture solar-paneled fire
  • On half a hill. Now higher and drier
  • Than shining bottled self-reliance,
  • Our thirsty tongues can yet recall
  • How shadows made the sunlight fall…
  • III. The Kickapoo
  • For Bud and Katie
  • A staked-out country rises up to stand
  • With true inhabitants. The native state
  • Of things is such that hope can immigrate
  • From ignorance to undiscovered land—
  • Beyond the claims that sinking fortunes spend
  • On river silt. The hand imagines it
  • Before the mind can hold its rich deposit,
  • Or reckon miles of it by heart.
  • The wind
  • Can speak such fluid poetry. Its sound
  • Can bend the Kickapoo with Jesuit
  • Canoes. As chalice rests with calumet,
  • A rambling river seeks to understand,
  • Its shifting banks, bowed like divining rods,
  • To tap into the common ground it floods.
  • IV. Blessing for the House of Zimmer
  • You were born of water’s hospitality
  • And made your presence felt in all the corners
  • That left the wintering shadows reeling.
  • Not everything that falls to grave and floor
  • Returns to dust — some things arise, sometimes
  • Derived from sullen rains and salted fields,
  • And ancient ways renew themselves, a floor,
  • A foundation, wall and roof – a little bit
  • Improves the lot and a bit of clearing waits
  • For sunlight’s touch as gold that touches myth.
  • Such is hunger, such is danger, such is greed.
  • But Word and Meaning bear their child, A Gift—
  • So three gods now come to introduce a hope:
  • Where sunbirds sing, the rain won’t dare to speak.
Joseph O'Brien

Joseph O’Brien is the Poetry Editor for the San Diego Reader.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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