Ed Zahniser

Time to Go

Trains served as clocks back in the day.
You only needed to check in maybe twice
daily to track mealtimes on schedule or
not to roll bedtimes like gamblers’ dice.
Earlier still, machines invented time
as the bugaboo it has become. When
the Sun went down only petty crime
was out. Morning rebooted life then,
candles and oil not being in reach
of common folk, but industrialism
birthed us into time’s unbreach-
able security tighter than prison.
Art deco steam trains—go see them
poised static now inside the museum.


Plan Your Next Lifetime Now 

Starfish don’t have brains.
Earthworms have five hearts.
It’s never too early to plan
your soul’s next transmigration.
In your next life do you want
to wash your own ears, even if
your new species lacks hands?
Shoot for being a giraffe, whose
21-inch tongue can do its ears,
or if you’re naïve at deal-making,
be reborn into a family of those apes
group-named “a shrewdness.”

See your lifetime as one teachable
moment’s long segue to rebirth,
maybe in an exaltation of larks
who might make sense of opera.
Don’t leave your soul’s fate to chance,
given our vast knowledge of species
and roster of thoughtful next moves.
Can you say the trajectory of Ben
Franklin’s and Thomas A. Edison’s
souls occurred from pure chance?
Why risk ending up as a woodpecker,
given our dearth of standing dead trees?
Don’t even bother to ask the starfish.

© Ed Zahniser

Ed Zahniser was a founding editor of Some Of Us Press in Washington, D.C. He has published seven books and seven chapbooks of poetry. As poet laureate of Shepherdstown, W.V., he curates the Poem of the Month posted on the Town Hall glass wall. He curated two art gallery shows of poetry, Public Hanging! and Poetry Works on Walls. The University at Buffalo Library special collections recently accessioned his poetry recently accessioned his books, chapbooks, and gallery catalogs.

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