Thomas Zimmerman

Left to Darken

The tongueless temple bells swing silently 
in cloisters of your mind. And you are blind,
the hero of a play that violently
emerged, full-formed, then flopped. No seer divined
apotheosis in a sequel. That’s 
fond hope. You can’t have toiled so long to fade
to gray, then depthless black. But ladders, cats,
and other omens couldn’t lie to staid
familiars you have courted, feared, fulfilled.
You sold the soiled soul you scraped from wheels
and treads of crumbling empires, those you’ve willed
to sons and daughters that your dark muse feels
were lucky to have not been born. No death 
for them. But on your neck, you feel cold breath.

Chamber Music

And through my earbuds now, a string quartet:
King Lear, by Philip Glass. A tragic play
translated to the moans the bows beget
upon the strings: a humming midwife, say;
a groaning mom-to-be; or workmen’s saws
at fragrant pine-planks for a coffin. Odd
these ecstasies of thought, these ravens’ caws
that slice the mind’s dark woods, with nightfall clawed
by stars like fiery demons straining to
break through. Our suffering’s immense as space,
as planets dying in the blood. Our true
catharsis, birthed from tragedy: to face
the aged raving king, the children cruel,
the hero traumatized, reduced to fool.

Thomas Zimmerman (he/him) teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits The Big Windows Review at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His poems have appeared recently in Fleas on the DogStreetcake Magazine,and Yellow Mama.  His latest book is Domestic Sonnets (, 2021). His website is https:/