How curious life is!

Wait long enough and everything

passes by faster and stranger than before,

then gone in a blink.
The woman who loved you to death

will be convicted of your murder

The neighbor who ignores you


may offer himself

next year

as a Christmas present,


and just as a seed that dreams

of growing into a redwood tree

has no idea that lightning

will destroy it in 6,000 years,


so all our dreams vanish

when the dreamer

is gone.



In my crowded

empty apartment,

a party’s going on.


Stunners in flapper dresses

shimmy to Dixieland,


poems are being written

in invisible ink

and argued over,


my family shouts

terrible truths

about each other

from picture frames,


Nijinsky, costumed

in rose petals, leaps

from my bedroom

through the living room

and out a window


landing softly in the

Manhattan sky between

Orion and the Big Dipper,


while in my place

there’s always enough time

for Romeo to find

his destined Juliet,


for my family to make peace

and poems to explode,


even for Nijinsky to leap

back from heaven

if he wants to.



Upside down happy I am

over you—or under you.

Such a deranged drunken

teenybopper feeling

I completely forgot

I ever felt—like pizza

at two a.m. and the roller-

coaster and running away

from school, crazy fun

too good to last with built-in

nostalgia I sensed was

history even while it was

happening. Fifteen is the way

I’ll see you forever

though now we’re both older

than most countries, rickety

enough to stroke out on joy

or bad memories.  What do

you say—let’s close our eyes,

make a wish and be in

yoyo love again!



An angler is how he sees himself,

gazing out the window of his favorite coffee shop,

notebook with pencil poised

like Ishmael and his harpoon

to strike any stray fancy

and turn it to gold.

Page after page of nibbles in the notebook

but they’re unimportant minnows

so he throws them back or crosses them out,

hoping the leviathan swimming fathoms deep

in his mind will finally bite.


Outside the window a woman drifts by

still unbelieving that her only child

was killed in Afghanistan two days before.

The coffee shop owner is on the phone

in the kitchen desperately trying

to persuade his landlord not to quadruple

his rent, putting him out of business

after thirty-five years. A taxi pauses

at a red light ten feet away

with a moribund passenger who the driver

thinks is drunk but has swallowed

an overdose of painkillers, while back

in the writer’s apartment, his wife

is having sex with a visitor

she met in the elevator

just twenty minutes ago.


Hours of fishing later, the angler

erases all these nibbles

and closes his notebook

with his usual sigh. Perhaps tomorrow,

he muses, his luck will turn

and he’ll hook into a truly substantial idea

that even now is circling

in the dark.


Saul Zachary’s poetry has been published in The New York Times, California Quarterly, Mobius, Poem, Taproot Literary Review, Pegasus, and many other publications. His plays, which have been widely produced in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and the U.K., are published by Brooklyn Publishers Inc. and have been included in The Best Short Plays series. He has won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, PEN American Center, New York State Creative Artists Program Service, CBS-TV, and garnered a Massachusetts Arts and Humanities Fellowship. He is a three-time winner of the Dubuque Fine Arts Players National One-Act Playwriting Contest. He teaches at the School of Visual Arts.