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Dinner with Jerry

For Dr. Gerald J. Zinfon, Professor of English and Poet

Champagne, home-grown tomatoes
and peppers, angel hair pasta,
California strawberries with
vanilla ice cream;

Conversation peppered
with fresh jazz, the table
graced with one out-of-season,
honest-red tulip.

Dinner cut and cooked by Dr. Z.,
who saunters through poetry classes
by day, scratching at our heads
like a rooster pecking
at the sun-dried earth,
telling us to learn about words —
and we do.

Through three courses
and four wines,
he talks to his soon-to-be grads,
tells us of his just-married son
and old friends — a priest,
a Vietnam vet.
He speaks of Simic,
and an all-night
Army fire stoked
in the Florida glades
to keep the snakes away.

During dessert, his lady smiles
modestly at his full-face grins,
perhaps like me, wanting
to stay in this moment — with him,
flush with fifty years of living.

After espresso, I stand to leave,
then pause, stealing
a backward glance
at the son who sits so sure
of his place in the framed glass
on the side-board server …
belonging, even when absent,
in this man’s home.

Posted on June 21st, 2009Comments RSS Feed
6 Responses to Dinner with Jerry
  1. John W. Perkins
    June 21, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Ahh, that was not only pleasant, it was understandable..

    Being a mental Cro-Magnum Man, a lot of poetry is hard for me to wrap my brain around.

    Except, the poetry of the sea ________________________________/)

  2. Dr. Zinfon was my professor in college in the 80’s. I loved him and learned more from him about writing than anyone else I’ve ever studied with, before or since.

  3. Matt — t hanks so much for reading the blog and commenting. Dr. Zinfon was my professor in the 90’s and I agree — he taught me nearly everything I need to know about carefully approaching the writing process. I’m deeply indebted to him. So you’re a PSC’er (back before it was PSU!). Please visit anytime! P.S. I’m still in contact with Dr. Zinfon and saw him when I was up at PSU fall 08 for a reading/talk. He’s doing great.

  4. I love this poem so much.
    I am so happy to meet Dr. Zinfon and MC.
    I love his poem “Jazz”, too.

  5. Thank you, Keiko! I’m glad you like it. I believe you were there that night for dinner at his house. Was a wonderful evening!


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