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  • By Bob Zisk

Night Music & Other Poetry



Night Music


Tonight, in these pine scented woods, what silence,

As still as freshly fallen snow, as soft

As fur on a bent branch, as sweet as incense

In a dark church, invites my mind to drift,

To roll along this worn deer path, to shift

Through broken twigs and deep, hoof trodden snow,

Into a purple landscape whose shade is cleft

And pierced by starlight and scalloped moon glow?

Silence: not even the smooth waltz of slow,

Whispering conifers intrudes. The air

Is motionless, the trail is a crisp flow

Of hours old spoor, of droppings and coarse hair.

My eyes, now grown used to the violet night,

Scroll through blue shadows and feathery starlight.


Under the Horns of Artemis


Tonight, as Venus shines near Winter’s end,

I watch soft shadows on the broken rocks

And the gray, sprawling bushes. Furrowed sand,

Inlaid with marbled scat and shallow tracks,

Spreads out in front of us, and the dark cracks,

Stone banks, broken by thirsty roots and runs

Of churning torrents, squint at white deer racks

Carried downstream by bronze floods and steel rains.

Jackrabbits, motionless among pale stones

And silver chamisa, wait for us to pass

Them by. My dog picks up their little signs,

But under the slivered moon, forgoes the chase.

Together, in the pure night, like gods, we walk,

And leave them for another beast to stalk.


Bob Zisk is retired and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife, Chamchun. His academic training was in Classical and Medieval Langauges and Literature, and Philosophy. He was Director of Technical Services for NYC's Division of Homeless Housing Development and sat on the agency's Design Review Committee. He has written grants for community based housing organizations, and has taught planning and zoning issues, building stabilization, and construction contract management. He has also taught World Religions and Classical Languages and Literature. He has been published in Lucid Rhythms, Quarterly Journal of Undiscovered Poets, Better than Starbucks, Asses of Parnassus, Vates, Snakeskin, The Hypertexts,  and The Lyric.

7 Comments


ajsedia
Jan 27

If I didn't read your bio, I would know instantly you were a westerner. The scenes you describe capture the wild scenes of the mountain west perfectly, and evince an intimate familiarity with it. Are you by chance a hunter?


These are both finely crafted sonnets that place the sense-impressions first yet adhere to form. The language stimulates the senses and places the reader in the scene (I couldn't help but notice fecal reference in both poems -- for added sensory stimulation). These were truly enjoyable to read.

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Bob Zisk
Bob Zisk
Jan 29
Replying to

Thanks for your observations. I am truly a westerner. My status as a local was confirmed about 2000, when I developed the first hints of allergies to chamisa and juniper. As for hunting, it's been a long time. Age and a diminished desire for meat have left me satisfied with watching birds and insects, and following game trails. Yes, I have included droppings, which I sometimes find in my tard. Thanks again.


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Bob Zisk
Bob Zisk
Jan 08

Thank you, Martin. I'm happy that you liked Artemis and her horns. She is the goddess of the hunt and the protectoress of women in childbirth, and she rules the space between life and death. And, of course, under many names she is the moon and the female lunation cycle. The horns of Artemis are the waxing crescent moon. As I've gotten older I have found a place in the night sky, and I find it a gateway to the imagination and the complementary feminine.

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martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
Jan 08
Replying to

Thank you, Bob, for responding to my comment. For many years I have enjoyed engaging with poets regarding aspects of their poems that have appealed to me, and I have found it to be a very rewarding experience in that the poets themselves frequently say things that are almost as interesting as the poems themselves because they belong to the same world, the same space, from which their finished works emerged.


So the details you provided regarding Artemis ruling over 'the space between life and death' sent me back to the poem again and opened up a whole new avenue for me to explore within it. Then, while I was doing this, I looked out my window and saw a…


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jm6783685
jm6783685
Jan 07

This is lovely stuff! It has all the sensuality of Keats without in anyway being a pastiche of Keats. He just happens to feel the same way that Keats does. I particularly admire his ability to conjure up the sacredness of that moment within nature when we feel utterly at one with it. As if caressed by some presence which is at the same time larger than the universe but also vastly more intimate.


Each poem is replete with beautiful phrases and memorable lines, to the point that you feel learning them off by heart would constitute a pleasure rather than a duty.

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Bob Zisk
Bob Zisk
Jan 08
Replying to

Thank you for your generous comment. Since childhood I have been fond of forests and meadows at night. My wife and I live at about 7500 feet, and in the open it's easy to imagine that one's head is among the stars.

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martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
Jan 07

Both of these poems are excellent and a real joy to read because of the way they evoke nature and night and the mysterious spirits of the earth so beautifully. I particularly like the line 'as sweet as incense in a dark church' and the rather unexpected way it is used to conjure a sense of the sacredness of the 'pine scented woods' in "Night Music".


I also like very much the reference to the Greek goddess/huntress Artemis, and the decision of the speaker (and his dog) not to hunt anything on this particular occasion, just to walk and be and enjoy the 'pure night' and 'the silvered moon' in "Under the Horns of Artemis". Well done, Bob.

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