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POEMS from DISTANCES by William Zander


William Zander was born in Tulsa in 1938, and reared in Omaha. Since then, he's lived in Southern California, Missouri and is currently a resident of Sussex County, New Jersey. He's been an artist, cartooonist, journalist, fiction writer and teacher. He currently serves on the faculty in the English Department at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ, where he helps to edit the Literary Review, a journal of international writing published at university. His poetry has appeared in periodicals since the early sixties, but Distances (Solo Press, San Luis Obispo, CA.) was his first collection of poems. The following poems are excerpted from the book which is available autographed, from the author, by writing to Skylands Writers & Artists Association, Box 15, Andover, NJ. 07821-0015. He is married to Alex Zander, a talented actress and writer of light verse. The couple serve on the Advisory Board of SWAA, Inc. and help to Coordinate the series of poetry readings, founded by Daniela Gioseffi, at McKeown's Historic Lodge, on the bank of Culver Lake, in Branchville, near their home. Zander is a trout fisherman and bird watcher in the last unspoiled woods and lake lands of New Jersey's Northwest.



is subtle, the coming of little points,

little embroideries, against the grey and bristling

armies of the hills; the buds unfurl,

tiny and cautious, yellow as much as green;

leaves poke out of the soil, or whorl

like green and newly discovered shells,

spears and tongues and little green hearts,

the veins clear and important - now

the infinite complexities begin:

blue grass, bent grass, oat grass, crab grass,

white oak, black oak, red oak, still

the green spreads with a sigh,

green like a water color, plain as day;

and flowers, bright and explosive;

the petals fall, the green creeps up,

hiding the fruit, the nests of birds and squirrels,

it closes in as it opens, wider and wider,

heavy, solid, massive,

pounds of green, like dough, rising,

the hills groan with the weight of green,

heat presses down, green, green,

green with its cheeks puffed out, holding its breath,

the houses smothered in green, green

through the buzzing screen, the sky a hole in the green,

green, green, in the depths of which,

should you lose yourself in the darkest spot,

the center of all that green,

you would be where you always wanted to go,

you would surrender like the hills

to green, and its torpid, solid weight

would sink you in ultimate green,

the ostrich fern, the moss on a log

where an ant is stalking, there in the shade

you would fizz like a swamp where cattails nod,

and lilies lie flat and undisturbed

on the clotted, mossy water.


-- a mis amigas espanolas

The trees of heaven opened their arms and shed their leaves

Like lovers. The children bathing

Under the plane trees looked toward heaven

And saw the Lone Ranger

Tossing about, dreaming of inaccessible horses.

The people drinking sherry out on the terrace

Heard the last words

And lost count, and sipped, and watched as the awning flapped.

The waiters were all in league with the storm,

And hovered a few feet in the air.

And the sky filled in, filled in,

And a vein of gold appeared, and there was a sigh,

And the white-coated waiters whirled around and around.

Out on a fishing boat, a hake drowned.

Nobody cared but the hake. The sea, however,

Hurled itself at the boat.

Sometimes, doubtless, God is impressive; still,

Not far away, the sea looked like china,

Porcelain I mean, and people

Were wondering where to eat, as people will,

And whether or not they were in love.



The golden trout is as beautiful

as a little woman writhing in my hand.

When I was a boy, and reading

Tarzan and the Ant Men,

I daydreamed a body,

held in my fist, the little breasts

the kicking legs, her squeaks

of fear and delight at the probing

finger - bones and flesh,

the mystery there to inspect

for the giant, erotic

son of Nimrod, the kid who built

the shining, intricate

model airplanes, balsa strips

pinned like a woman to the diagram,

Oh that was long ago, and now

the women are giants, hair as thick

as kelp, heavy with milk

as whales, the yeasty smothering

Brobdignagian flesh! And yet,

see how she crosses her burnished legs,

see how her face is shining,

how she wets her soft, diaphanous lips

with her little, innocent tongue!

O woman, nature's wronged and innocent waters,

swamp me while you can,

sting me with your beautiful bugs;

we both must die,

like the golden trout

streaming with blood from its shiny gills,

which I so wondrously lift

on my stringer, to the sun

where it glows like Rembrandt gold

as the sun goes down.

Copyright © 1979 & 1998 by William Zander. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted --or used in any electronic medium-- without expressed permission of the author.

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