Paul Zimmer, “Zimmer Envying Elephants”

I have a wide, friendly face
Like theirs, yet I can’t hang
My nose like a fractured arm
Nor flap my dishpan ears.
I can’t curl my canine teeth,
Swing my tail like a filthy tassel,
Nor make thunder without lightning.

But I’d like to thud amply around
For a hundred years or more,

Stuffing an occasional tree top
Into my mouth, screwing hugely for
Hours at a time, gaining weight,
And slowly growing a few hairs.

Once in a while I’d charge a power pole
Or smash a wall down just to keep
Everybody loose and at a distance.

From Crossing to Sunlight Revisited: New and Selected Poems. Zimmer, the former director of the University of Georgia Press and then the University of Iowa Press, has published a dozen volumes of poetry and a collection of essays, After the Fire, about his life in the publishing industry. This is a sequel of sorts to the 1996 collection Crossing to Sunlight, even referencing that book’s cover art.

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11 July 2007 | poetry |