Three Poems by David Zieroth

New Work

Sigmund Freud Museum…

…I avoid and then its attraction
overcomes my aversion
and what’s unconscious in me
begins to walk up Berggasse
wind blowing trash and sand
in my teeth, telling me to sidestep
into a second-hand store across
from #19, an easy diversion

then in his former rooms I watch
old home movies: his white head
wobbles, his clacking jaw says
even a giant turns frail, fails
needs a blanket over the knees
in some flower garden far from here
strong grandsons near his cane

the look-alike visitors: eager, studious
whereas I’m in the toilet wishing
I had the nerve to scrawl a joke
on white walls, one to make him laugh
but I have no marker and no
wit either, just a bit of
bratty vile-and-bile I can’t express
though, believe me, I know it’s there

what remains? the ratty maroon
furniture (the couch left with him
when he fled), not the Nazis
who hung their flag in his doorway
maybe some sentences, the few
I have read, but greater than these
this image of agedness: perhaps
paltry, not tattered, in tie and suit,
near enough to death to be hallowed

which grieves me, that he who said
all was drive and fatality would
himself be required to turn and face
what came next, as if I were thinking
—wildly, strangely, wrought by dust—
that someone among us might be exempt
from the final exit out of flesh
knowing of course it wouldn’t be me
the one still talking, hoping for a cure



…lived on this street, so says
a tall handsome woman
whose apartment I’m renting
one thousand years old
with modern plumbing
and beams so huge I think of
Pacific coast giants

I look across the narrow way
of Costa dei Magnoli to where
a church waits with fresh flowers
under a fading madonna’s smile
when I open wide the windows

and then walk out, locate his home
and high in a circle, his bearded face
a Pisces with Leo rising
hard to see, just another pale
fresco, yet strength to outlast
generations who trudged
this slope back to when
the nearby city wall held
against enemy knives

and where now I meander
pushing up along the stones
May grass high and red with
poppies as if from blood shed
and also a fragrance I catch
and fail to identify until at last
I see small dangling lemons
not quite globes, not quite suns
and think of starry ideas, just begun
his, all earth-changing, my own

no bigger than a brain’s sphere
or a handful of this warm soil
to sail home with
onto a cold coast
no new moons to discover there
no orbs to name even as the lenses
I look through rearrange me
daily from fuzzy to clear
in case a heaven swims by


a moment of missing bells

on a construction site, a crowbar falls on a pail
at such an angle that metal on metal rings out
to the plaza where I sit near mumbling fountains
half in shadow, half in sun, in view of distant water
and I twist my head to catch the sound again

as if a bell has rung, and in that instant I walk again
in Wien amidst the pealing, air-filling, calling chimes
resounding out from corner churches, sending their
iron-made messages of attention and intent
through pedestrians hurrying to destinations of

torte trysts, formal assignations or sitting alone
with tiny porcelain cups in hand, which tremble
in sympathetic vibration, and so the big and
little are joined as the hourly resonance
floats over the city, causes its denizens to

gaze upward at spires and to imagine themselves
ascending, asking how it feels to have ascension
inside them, a tintinnabulation growing, climbing out
of one’s chest since first burst of the clapper striking
told how a small tick has been carved out of time

These poems are part of a manuscript called Albrecht Dürer and me, to be published by Harbour later this fall.

One Comment

  1. Gerald Hill
    Posted October 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Puts me back on the road, David. Thanks.

Post a Comment

Your email address is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


David Zieroth

David Zieroth has published several books of poetry including The Fly in Autumn, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, and How I Joined Humanity at Last, which won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. He taught at Douglas College in New Westminster, BC, before retiring and founding The Alfred Gustav Press. Born in Neepawa, Manitoba, he lives in North Vancouver, BC.