Thursday, May 5, 2016

Welcome to Chani Zwibel

This evening I'd like to post some poems by Chani Zwibel, a member of the Southern Collective Experience and the poetry editor of The Blue Mountain Review.  I trust that this first poem will put you into a summery mood.  (It has been so gray lately in Maryland that I really need to be reminded of summer lightning, heat, and humidity.)


There is a room inside my soul with an altar to fire and the fire burns day and night, making that room sweltering, hotter than a Valdosta night with heat lightning flashing over fields of cotton.

Priestesses garbed in yellow tend the altar and keep it lit.

The fire room plays only Jimi Hendrix “Let me stand next to your fire” and I can strut through the room in six inch platform black leather heels.

I am riding a white stallion in the fire altar, blazing flame of queen upon a wild mount, crushing the heads of my foes.

I am the dragon queen here, claws on my golden hoard of gems, goblets and cases made of precious woods and metals.

The dragon queen devours enemies, terrible beast of fire; she reduces foes to ashes.

The room in my soul holds the fire, holds it like a palace of burnished marble in the darkness, and it glows, white, hot, luminous, burning. 

Often the dragon queen visits the marble room, and roars through the windows her all-consuming blast, a stream of flames. 

Birds are roasted mid-flight, and fall to the ground where she eats them after, and smiles, her fangs all gold and gore. 


Dreams used to be more than wishing for a working credit or debit machine.

No negative thoughts, but do not use the word “no”. 

Just a cashier today, not head cashier or customer service or even a writer; just a cashier.

To scan and bag, to answer phone, to spray citrus cleaner and wipe off dirt.

An old man’s fingers,

Long and bony,

His hands are hairy spiders with skinny legs.

To take money and drink water and joke with the guys.

Electric starlight on the cove of nowhere

Blessed edge of forgotten worlds

Find me here, and in dreams. 

Circular swing of time

Going round, spinning back in on itself,

Carries me to a place

Where all my past lives converge

And everyone I ever knew

Is there.

Memories live in the wings of music

Vegetables pay us no mind

We are poor vagabonds beside the doors of commerce

Echo me no angel’s cry

I can’t go back to those old days

The new me is where the old me cannot go

I am time’s prisoner.

It’s the slips of debit and credit cards held together with a paper clip.

It’s the cloying smell of old ladies’ perfume.

It’s the dull headache at the top of the head.

It’s the bump of the shark on the ankle, brief brush with the Dark Agency.

It’s the face that haunts, vampire-like, the common place healthfood store that is my purgatory. You know the people from past lives. The same ones who broke you heart with their beauty, the same ones who rush in every Fall, Autumnal like the dying season, their poignant nostalgia, their cloves and crumpled leaves.

For every thick-headed slow-witted customer, for every Senior who demands their discount, the balances are disrupted with changing weights.

For dollars and cents

For returns and rents.

I have been trying
To peel the world like my personal grape
But the skin will not come off
Under every layer is a new layer.

Whenever I write it sounds
Like your mother is calling you home for dinner;
I am only trying to explain how
Rocks whisper rocky songs
Trees can easily interpret for me. 
Whenever I write it sounds like
Heavy metal rock music blasting
From your adolescent neighbor’s car stereo.
Sometimes it morphs into hip-hop
And you unconsciously roll your windows up
And lock your door.
You have been watching local news too closely.
I am only trying to ask you for a cigarette.

Whenever I write it sounds like
Someone is dying;
I am only trying to harness the shadows,
But they keep slipping back into the stream.
Slick little grey minnows,
With curious mouths,
They examine the bread crumbs I toss.
If all I get are watery grey streaks,
I am only trying to paint with rain.

Whenever I write it sounds like
Someone is hammering a violin to death,
Like someone is yanking the strings
With the prongs at the back of the hammer,
Someone ripping its musical body
With grotesque vigor. 
I am only trying to capture these little white moths.

With Chani's last line, I have to play "Pannonica," which is both the name of the Jazz Baroness and a moth.  This version is by a very young Chick Corea:

This is his "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs"--what a great title for a song!

I feel like I should play something even more dramatic, though--such as Jimi Hendrix' "Fire":

I'll finish with a version of his "Spanish Castle Magic":


  1. A banquet of images to feast upon. "To peel the world like my personal grape," fantastic line.

  2. So much lyricism...magical and mundane...thank you for sharing!

    "Whenever I write it sounds
    Like your mother is calling you home for dinner"

    "I am only trying to paint with the rain"

    "Memories live in the wings of music

    Vegetables pay us no mind

    We are poor vagabonds beside the doors of commerce

    Echo me no angel’s cry"