Four Poems by Jim Zola


Against Poetry

I’m reading an Official Detective Stories magazine from 1959.
Southern California’s Finch Scandal: I’ll Be Dead for Christmas, The Marriage
Counselor Racket. On the cover, a Hollywood blonde in a white lace dress
mostly off her shoulders, straddles a ladder that leans out of the picture.
Something to the left of the photographer must be frightening.
Her hand grips the wooden rung, gives away her age.

It’s the photographs that draw me in, the faces caught mid thought, the polite
killer, the innocent victim posed holding a tennis racket, then under
a sheet, feet sticking out. Who killed the Torso twins? Mr. X? Mr. Y?
Dismembering people near Gadsden, tossing bodies around the countryside.
Oh, how can I read Roethke or Lowell after this? There is mystery
on every page. Everyone is dead or dying.

The Sirens

I run back into the house to find my book on birds.
Olivia slouches on the couch scowling at bills.
Did you call Boise?
No. But there’s a giant bird on top of the house.

Are you sure?
Yes, it glared at me with hungry eyes.
No, are you sure you didn’t call someone in Boise.
I don’t know anyone there.
Where’s my bird book?

Someone did.
The newsman said jays were falling from the skies in Tangipahoa parish.
It was here between Frost and the Everyday Fix-It book.
West Nile Virus.
It was looking right at me.

Who did you call?
It said my name.
Do you love her?
As big as a dog.
Do you still love me?
I want to know what it is.
I want you out.

She points
towards the door.

Dialects of Lust

Dialects of Lust
Clumsy in love
we tangle instead of tango
bump heads, almost fall
out of bed
as though we haven’t
been doing this
for years
your nipple
in my ear
delicates caught
on a foot
tugged until anything erotic
heaps in the mess
of sheets and we
come together
not in sweaty bliss
but exhausting

Eugene & Lillian

Truth is everybody is going to hurt you:
you just gotta find the ones
worth suffering for.     — Bob Marley

She willows.
He grows
blade marked,
oakish. He goes on
about Bobby Donaldson,
the Goodman drummer.
Nothing compares.

She owns
a mountaintop,
a snapshot
in her dresser drawer
next to the vaginal cream.
He tells others
he keeps her
on a short leash.
She says
he just doesn’t realize
which end
is his.


Jim Zola is a poet and photographer living in North Carolina.

But that might be a lie.

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