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Kurt Nimmo: Pantomime
Part of the PoetryCircle Showcase series.
  • pantomime

    it’s a
    fancy art district
    in one of those tourist towns.

    I am walking down the sidewalk looking
    in the windows, bored as usual.
    it’s hot so I take a rest
    in the shade of an awning
    and look around at the people walking
    on the sidewalk and
    coming and going
    from the shops.

    I notice most have
    smart phones and they are talking on them
    or walking as if in a trance
    busy tapping screens.

    I have one of these things too
    and it occurs to me how stupid we all are
    with out our little devices, oblivious to the world
    and each other. this inattentiveness
    is dangerous but
    nobody seems to notice.

    I turn and see three young women
    walking up the sidewalk in my direction.
    they are pretty girls and each one
    pokes at a smart phone.

    when they are a few feet away
    I stick my thumbs in my ears, wiggle my fingers,
    stick out my tongue and make a
    grotesque face.

    they don’t see me or my silly face
    as they walk past staring fixedly
    at their screens.

    I stand
    in the shade
    for a few more minutes.

    I think we have
    finally become a society
    of the blind leading the blind
    and one day our civilization
    will fall like Rome did
    when the Visigoths
    streamed through the Salarian Gate
    but we won't know it because
    we will be too busy
    playing Knightmare Tower
    on our phones.

    then I walk
    down the street
    to an ice cream parlor and go in
    and get a cup of rocky road
    with a cookie stuck
    in the
    middle of it.



    in the
    grocery store
    I am suddenly struck

    it only
    lasts a second
    and I tell
    myself not to worry.

    body fails
    like an
    old weather vane
    by one too many

    I remember
    how good
    my eye sight was
    when I was
    a lad.

    all these years
    I vividly
    every sharp detail
    in the darkness
    as she lay
    there naked on the bed
    under the glow of
    a single candle.

    yellow candle
    bright as high noon
    in June
    as I happily
    lost my

    never forget

    never forget
    the miracle
    of the
    first time.

    years later
    she is
    still there
    beneath the sheet
    with a sigh
    holding me as

    I enter her warmness.



    earlier my wife
    went across the street
    to see the neighbor’s new kitten.
    when she came back
    she said the little guy has fleas.
    so now I sit here
    before the machine and think
    fleas are biting me.
    there is something crawling on my elbow.
    I stop writing
    and examine my elbow.
    nothing there.
    well, fleas are small. you can miss them.
    then it’s my ankle, so I raise my leg
    and pull up the cuff of my pants and twist my leg
    looking for parasites.
    damn it.
    I go back to clacking on the keyboard.
    then it’s my neck.
    I scratch there until it
    feels like I’ve ripped the skin off.
    I think about taking a bath.
    I think about pouring gasoline in there.
    it would not be wise to do this.
    it would be stupid
    and might not kill the fleas.
    fleas have me thinking like an idiot.
    I jump up out of the chair and go to the window.
    I look out the window
    and see the woman across the street.
    she’s on the lawn with the kitten.
    the kitten jumps up and down
    and the woman jumps up and down.
    they’re having a lot of fun
    while I’m in misery.
    I figure she must have
    passed all the fleas on to my wife
    and they are happy and flea-free over there.
    I go back and sit down at the machine.
    suddenly there is
    an itch in my arm pit.
    I shove a finger in there
    and wiggle it around.
    I can’t write.
    I can’t do anything.
    there’s a bottle of scotch in the kitchen cabinet.
    I think it will solve
    my problem or it will at least
    make it more likely I do not care
    if there are fleas crawling
    all over me
    like a hungry army
    or if it is my imagination
    working in over-
    drive again.


    sex talk on the factory floor

    the guy
    on the multilith 1250
    was in love with a topless dancer.
    she would dance for him
    give him lap dances
    and he'd blow his paycheck on her
    but she wouldn’t go
    out with him.
    I told him
    most sex is overrated.
    it's usually
    not like you imagine.
    it’s not like a porno movie.
    people are not that good
    that topless dancer
    you think you’re in love with.
    he didn’t understand.
    she looked sexy up there on the stage.
    it’s all an act, I told him.
    it’s a fantasy designed
    to vacuum up your money.
    stay out of that place.
    find yourself a nice girl and start a family.
    you’ll be much happier
    even if the sex sucks. he looked at me
    like I’d shoved a knife in his ribs
    and then put more ink in the machine.
    he avoided me
    for the rest of the week.


    free of anger

    his mother
    walked in the
    room with
    a burlap sack
    and a metal spatula.
    she looked
    right at him
    and glared.

    she did not see me there.
    I was not in the room.
    I was invisible.

    his mother said
    she’d put the burlap sack
    over his head
    and beat
    the ever-loving shit out of him.

    that’s how she said it.
    ever-loving shit.

    he had done
    something wrong again.
    he was
    the kind of kid
    who found himself
    in some kind of trouble.

    waved the burlap sack
    and the metal spatula in his face
    and glared.
    he smiled but was
    afraid of her.
    then she left the room.

    we walked
    out of the bedroom
    and passed the kitchen.

    she sat at the table
    drinking whiskey
    from a small water glass.
    the bottle was right there with
    the sun shining through it.

    we snuck past and
    then we were outside and free.
    the air was brisk
    and the sky so blue
    it hurt your eyes.

    it felt good
    to be free of her
    and that anger.


    collapsing universe

    we drive into town.
    she wants shoes so I take her to one
    of those chain stores where
    the shoes are made
    by slaves in China or Guatemala.

    I pull up outside
    and tell her to go in.
    I don't want to look at women's shoes.
    she gives this look that says
    I'm being an asshole again
    and then she gets out
    and walks over to the store.

    I sit in the car with the engine running
    and cold air blowing on my face.
    I feel like the universe is collapsing.
    it is shrinking and there's less room for everybody
    and some us will have to die to make room.
    I think this as I sit there watching
    a fat man push a cart across the parking lot.
    it is a hundred degrees out there
    and it looks like he is about to collapse
    and die. one less person
    in a world that gets smaller and smaller
    with each passing second.

    then my wife returns
    loaded up with shoe boxes.
    she is happy
    and for the moment I am no longer
    an asshole. I back out
    and find my way into a line
    waiting for a traffic light to change.

    I think the universe
    may not be collapsing after all
    as my wife talks about shoes
    and how happy they
    make her.
  • Kurt Nimmo was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1952. In the late 70s, he co-edited the successful literary magazine The Smudge. In the 80s, he edited another literary magazine, Planet Detroit. Kurt has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes for fiction, and two of his books were selected as "modern classics" by the iconic Wormwood Review. He lives in Texas with his wife and two cats.

  1. Sara R
    I love how you write! There is a simplicity to the form but so much depth beneath it. Everything is so descriptive- you pay attention to every little detail which gives the reader really vivid images of the scenes :)
    Danielle Prasad likes this.
  2. Great, thanks you. your poem so great
    Danielle Prasad likes this.
  3. Julia Schott
    This is amazing.
    Danielle Prasad and Kurt Nimmo like this.
  4. Michael Ashley
  5. TrishSaunders
    These poems are all quite wonderful.
    Danielle Prasad and Kurt Nimmo like this.
  6. Kurt Nimmo
    thanks to all for the wonderful comments.
    Lance Watson likes this.
  7. Jon Klein
    Smartphones suck. This collection does not. Very enjoyable read.
    Lance Watson and Kurt Nimmo like this.
  8. Cheryl.Leverette
    Cover image is great too.
    Lance Watson and Kurt Nimmo like this.
  9. Cheryl.Leverette
    Enjoyed this to pieces, Kurt. What strikes me about your poetry is even if it were grammatically or structurally incorrect, which I'm sure it's not, it would be exactly what it's supposed to be, each poem is a metaphor of itself, felt & read at the same time. Hope that makes sense to you. It's a compliment, I hope.  When I read 'Fleas' I had to hold my hand over my mouth to keep from embarrassing myself at work.  Terribly funny.
    Kurt Nimmo and Lance Watson like this.
  10. Lance Watson
    Great stuff, man.
    Kurt Nimmo likes this.
  11. Lavonne Westbrooks
    Wonderful showcase.
    Kurt Nimmo and Lance Watson like this.