With Paper and Brush

A poem by Thomas Zimmerman


“It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train
to Cry” is on the stereo, my wife
is gone, a stout’s half-drunk in front of me,
the dogs are faking sleep (just waiting for
a treat), and I am channeling the dead.
That is, the images won’t come. I’m not
in love with television. Internet’s
a bore. A jazzman said to play until
you’re safe. My father flickers just beyond
the lamplight, whispers faint and hoarse: To put
a penny on the track? Forget the flag
and flowers on his grave? To lend out books
and discs but not expect them back? They’re gifts.
And louder now: To paint. Not wait too long.


Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits two literary magazines at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

His chapbook In Stereo: Thirteen Sonnets and Some Fire Music appeared from The Camel Saloon Books on Blog in 2012.

Visit his website!

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Funny Bone

A poem by Kenneth P. Gurney


Everything has a funny bone.
Sorry my last joke missed yours.

You should laugh at my tie,
or, better, laugh at my lack of a tie.

I give you permission to laugh at me when I am employed.
And to laugh all the harder when I am employed and wearing a tie.

I will laugh at you when you wear your turquoise jewelry
and black shirt, with its black buttons and high collar.

Not because turquoise or your black shirt is funny,
but because you never wear your turquoise with any other color.

We should laugh at the forbidden together.
Even if you think the word ta-Boo should elicit a scream.

I remember laughing as a white cop punched Ed in the face.
My laugh jerked the cop’s head toward me,

so he drop Ed to the ground and walk over to my face
and splatter shouted, “You find something funny in this?”

Which I did not, but the cop left Ed alone and the scene
shortly after I wiped my face dry on my shirt tails.

Unintentionally, I banged my funny bone on a Hurricane Ridge rock
which must have been its exposed funny bone

because I felt the low rumble through the mountain,
so similar, but deeper, than my elbow-rubbing, laughing moan.


Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his beloved Dianne. In his spare time he practices being an elk on the flanks of the Sandia Mountains. In Dianne’s spare time, he does whatever chores she places on the chores list for him to accomplish. His latest collection of poems is Stump Speech. (CreateSpace IPP, 2015.) Peruse his website.