Four Poems by Jeffrey Zable

sc june 18


Coming into the kitchen to eat my breakfast
I immediately saw a huge moth lying on its back
perfectly still in the middle of the floor.
And looking down upon it, I imagined that my own ending
would look pretty similar,
the only difference being that I’ll likely be lying in a bed
with someone looking down on me
who will then call someone
who will call someone else.
And not long after that,
I’ll either be buried or turned into ashes,
while a few may comment on how I seemed to be okay;
that lately I seemed to be in a fairly decent mood–
which was seldom the case. . .


Hell, I would have gone into politics too
if I’d been better at faking a sincere desire
to help a lot of people: create jobs, lower taxes,
and keep the bad element from their doorsteps.
Well, even though I didn’t go into politics,
I’ve always supported people in small ways
by laughing when they say things that I know
they think are funny. And I pet their animals—
mostly dogs–as if they’re my best friends.
And I always say, “Great to see you again!”
even if I’ve seen them earlier in the day
while at the corner store, the gym,
or just walking in the neighborhood,
where I spend most of my time these days–
not much interested in going farther than that. . .


I think at this point I mainly keep living
for something to do, even though I’m bored
and don’t get much out of anything,
whether it’s talking to people, taking a walk
in the park, or eating a ham and cheese sandwich.
I do get some enjoyment petting animals
like cats and dogs and then responding,
“Yes, I too see a lot of road kill these days!”
or “Most certainly, it’s a dog’s life!”
which really means that not much makes any sense
except asking oneself why as we get older
it makes less and less sense,
until one can’t ask even that,
and then someone else takes over the space
that we formerly inhabited,
and maybe or maybe not will ask themself
the very same question. . .


I pick up the phone and it’s a guy with a thick foreign accent
who tells me that the IRS is suing me, and that his company
can help me avoid financial penalty and possible jail time.
Deciding to play along, I ask him what the IRS is suing me for
and he responds that I’m being sued for falsifying my tax return
and that the IRS considers this to be a very serious matter.
And when I ask him what his services will cost me, he states
that first he needs to see my latest tax return, and that in general
the cost runs anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000, which is very
reasonable under the circumstances. Then when I tell him that under
the circumstances I’d rather pay the penalty and go to jail because
I’m a poet who’s always looking for new and different experiences
to fuel my writing, I hear that familiar click, which makes me think
that he considers a poet to be a poor candidate for paying such a fee,
and not worth any more of his valuable time. . .

Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro Cuban Folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Recent writing in MockingHeart Review, Colloquial, Ordinary Madness, Third Wednesday, Rasputin, Fear of Monkeys, Brickplight, Soft Cartel, After the Pause, and many others. In 2017 he was nominated for both The Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.

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