Honoring Norman Mallory (Zlatko Waterman) RIP 3/26/13
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Zlatko Waterman
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Post by Zlatko Waterman » September 19th, 2005, 10:41 am


( after two landscapes by Cezanne)

The great leave the unfinished

among the finished--

the hand that pushes the crumbs of miracle together

shakes in its sleep

stitches the right sleeve

into the cuff of the left

like Cezanne’s treetops

stitched to the sky over the quarry

and the yellow rocks ice-creaming up

into clouds and the whole

evaporating for the finish--

like lover’s sweat between their

folded hands in church.



I recognize it by the brick, and the wet copper smell of peas and cream of tartar on my plate. Here I wished for the competent steel of Captain Nemo’s eye plunging deeper than slate and chalk. Even then I dreamed of the great depths, plowing the green tons and my tongue glacier-sharp.

( 11/75)


inoperable they would call it now

when they used to tag him a dead man

and put him in the drawer still wet

I remember his knuckles, bloodless

from ringing the bell

squeezing the blistered bedrails

his lips bubbling

under the black tide of morphine

when he spit thorns at the top of his petalled voice

I pried the nurses apart

( 11/75)

"The world is everything that is the case."


was born in a palace

loved Carmen Miranda

was given a medal in the War

craved tautologies

was a hermit on a Norwegian fjord

designed door handles for his sister’s house

was a gardener in a monastery

boxed his students' ears and pulled their hair

was a philosopher at Cambridge

was often photographed carrying raincoats

was a candle of enlightenment to Bertrand Russell

got cancer and died

is justly celebrated in things not seen



Dream wheels cut into moonlit dirt,

your sick and dying clutch

firms for a moment and the

swipe of oncoming lights

brings your face up clear behind the windshield:

Your leanto smile, thorax dented with wounds,

your tobacco thumbs twisted above

the wheel in your sleep,

your guts plugged with pain.

Now I understand the teenage grin

over your doublestrong steel bed,

the radiant promise of virgin vinyl,

acid fragrance of nubile chrome;

why my pity scissors open like

your dark wound, I see now.

( 4/97)


I open the closet to blast him with light

while a sparrow hacks out a single hard note

over and over

to announce that a crow is eating her young


with glossy, defiant croaks as he does.

The spider too is an economist, wasting nothing.

He writes a tight-fisted letter,


dropping it in my pocket.

Two eyes on stalks,

two seeing thumbs, jab into the wool on hangers,

looking for an opening.

Each morning I bomb him

with a megaton of closet light

but he bounces back on his heels,

a dark sumo inside his circle of web.

Last week, a spider millenium ago,

he swung into the yellow galaxy of the lemon grove;

the sun sizzled him, popped him from his dream

of a million spiders cabling together

a few trees against the spring rain.

He landed on my shoulder, a short flight

in an April gust,

a desert ascetic who spins

his resolve out of himself.

He taught me better sight, how

to let spider courage wink under

the smutted candles of defeated eyes,

bend down into the spider's sumo crouch,

and praise the brevity

of the wind that blows us behind locked doors

where we wake with a flash we cannot bear.

( 10/96)


When I leave

this job

I will not thank those in offices

whom I never saw except on tv

or in the papers.

I will thank the girl who wrote about

the red hair under her lover's arms,

how he touched her nipples with fingers

black with gear grease.

I will thank Chilean Felipe

whose car battery was stolen

by the chicanos who he said

moved in and ruined the neighborhood.

I will thank the British girl

whose sons were molested by the babysitter,

and who gave me a leather edition of Shelley,

tooled with Sussex vines.

They have changed me and the job did not.

I will thank them now.



When I was a kid

I imagined myself a New York art hero--

Plastic Man with his hand in the pocket of

a Picasso,


arm stretching down Forty-Second Street

to Willem DeKooning's studio

or Superman soaring

over the steel-bolted

Mondrian of the New York skyline

the suddenly safer city

patrolled by aesthetes in berets on the ground

each packing an alto saxophone.

I still carry a green splinter of God

in my pocket, my fingers full of clouds,

eyes still on that other world.



Hard orchard work and the orchard girls, their blossom eyes on me

picking, picking

and this afternoon slavery

finally fuses dusk with a storm:

time for the Saturday Night Dance.

Watching the lighting climb the bluffs

hand in hand

we could never have imagined this party

where we meet the orchard girls

not in a slash of sun

but under a bright flurry of gin.

A foam of kisses

well-wishing over the well drinks,

a night of stars and business cards.

They all dance

as if melody were a returned investment

as if they were the brokers

of their own joy and pain

as if they tasted the liquors of these

tears, kisses, songs

they cannot improve at any price.

( 5/83)

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Post by mousey1 » September 19th, 2005, 12:09 pm

Jesus you're a fine writer Zlat....a fine writer.....just beautiful to my eyes.....just beautiful!
I used to walk with my head in the clouds but I kept getting struck by lightning!
Now my head twitches and I drool alot. Anonymouse


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Post by WIREMAN » September 19th, 2005, 5:57 pm

Great retro Zlatko.....really liked the Cezanne piece.........

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Post by mnaz » September 22nd, 2005, 9:08 pm


Enjoyed your poetry.

I loved the 'Reunion' piece... I can picture the scene, and the posturing.... though I confess that I missed my own 20-year...

And "I Will Thank".... that one hits home, though in reverse... I'm considering a return to the same office I worked in for 19 years until a couple years ago. I like where I've gone since then. I will not let the job change me....

Thanks again.

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Post by stilltrucking » September 22nd, 2005, 10:45 pm

ramble ramble
not much creativity or imagery in me
asperger autism my brain wired wrong
no poetry in me
a black void makes me utterly dependent on musicians and poets for my existence. i can't think of a more difficult group of people to depend on.

So I feed off your words, and not much to express my gratitude except these rambles.

I read somewhere that he lived on Swiss cheese sandwiches on rye because he did not want to waste any time thinking about what to have for dinner.

Comic books, how many hours did I spend trying to pronounce
Shazaam correctly so i would turn into Captain Marvel.

My fingers have become numb but I remember touching a woman once
seven times
surely enough for one man's life.

Carmen sang come on to my house I am going to give you everything.
fruit salad hats

ramble ramble
rambling jack

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Post by e_dog » September 23rd, 2005, 3:44 pm

Zlatko --

these are great poems.

you should be proud.
I don't think 'Therefore, I am.' Therefore, I am.

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Post by Zlatko Waterman » September 23rd, 2005, 5:01 pm

Thank you all:

For your very kind comments.

I thought that, having attained the age of sixty, it was time for a "poetry retrospective", lacking the time and inclination ( at this point) to amass a "selected and new poems", and having your eyes and ears, my most sympathetic audience, near and warm, I have flung these poems your way.

I appreciate having readers, as every writer does.

Just a retrospective note or two:

Here is the site that still lists some of my books, though five of them have been removed as they have gone out of print: ... 26-3481608

Further note:

You will observe that I am given a credit for that great work of modern film-making and literature:


There is a story behind this credit, but it is too tedious and improbable to tell. Suffice it to say that, when a green 25-year-old writer coming to Los Angeles for the first time and still writing film journalism and criticism, I nabbed a job "filling in" collaboratively for some scriptwriters on a team at Universal writing part of the film.

My credit should read: "editor and/or word splicer-- writer of some bridges between awkward moments". I would never dignify (or stigmify-- depending on your point of view . . .) myself by claiming to be a "screenwriter."

Since my books are out of print, they are occasionally for sale used at used book dealer locations. Just type my name ( my real name, not "Zlatko Waterman") into GOOGLE and you'll find some of my old things.

I suppose I am most proud of owning eight listings ( all separate) in WORLDCAT. By comparison, William Shakespeare owns 39,000.

I recently ( by a fortuitous co-incidence) was re-contacted, via e-mail, by Herbert Kuhner, the poet, German translator of poetry and prose, and professor of English at the University of Vienna. Kuhner

( his web site) ... -start.htm

translated some of my poetry into German in 1973 and it was published in an Austrian magazine, IMPULSE.

Kuhner was close to my good friend, mentor and much-lamented late teacher and translation collaborator, Zlatko Gorjan, from whose name I adapted my pseudonym on these boards.

Zlatko was one of the most famous Croatian translators of the twentieth century, and it was my privilege to study with him.

I have been extraordinarily fortunate in my lifetime at meeting superior minds in unlikely places ( they ARE unlikely places or I wouldn't have been there in the first place!) and benefitting from their luminous intelligence. Zlatko is way up there in the top three.

Doreen has kindly placed a bit more information on me here: ... llory.html

I have maundered on a bit about myself. Old men do that, don't they? ( . . .he suddenly was forced to confess).

Thank you all for reading my poems.



Post by hester_prynne » September 24th, 2005, 1:18 pm

What a total pleasure reading your work Zlatko....they are all such beautiful pieces, I especially liked the spider one myself, it was fantastic, I will from now on see spiders in a less defensive mode...

really a great treat "old man"! This ol gal thanks ye for it! I really dig your stuff...but you know that.

H 8)

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Post by Zlatko Waterman » September 24th, 2005, 8:40 pm

Thank you, Hester:

I think as I wrote "The Spider in the Closet", which was based on my own actual encounter with a spider who perched daily on the shoulder of a tweed jacket hanging conspicuously at the end of the closet rod, I had in mind, way, way back somewhere, Whitman's wonderful spider poem from "Leaves of Grass":


A Noiseless Patient Spider

A noiseless, patient spider,
I mark'd, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark'd how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them--ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,--seeking the spheres, to
connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form'd--till the ductile anchor
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.



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Post by mtmynd » September 25th, 2005, 6:06 pm

Z - late to the post, but very taken by your poetry. so difficult to choose one over the other, and so unneccessary... but today (after my second read) both "the world is everything that is the case" and "i will thank" hit me like a cool breeze on a hot night. you are a fine poet, my friend... one fine poet. thank you for sharing these gems.

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Post by e_dog » October 14th, 2005, 7:31 pm


how dare you use a pseudonym?


I don't think 'Therefore, I am.' Therefore, I am.

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