Jeffrey Zable

Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro Cuban Folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Recent writing in MockingHeart Review, Colloquial, Ordinary Madness, Third Wednesday, Rasputin, Fear of Monkeys, Brickplight, Soft Cartel, Little Rose, and many others. In 2017 he was nominated for both The Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.

Feeling Better

Glorious naked women everywhere with smiles on their faces

but because I knew it was an illusion I didn’t make a move,

knew that even if one of them was real, I’d have to talk,

something I wasn’t good at when I first met people,

especially beautiful women, so instead I talked to myself saying,

“What a magnificent world to be so alone in,

and just remember that your parents brought you here

to share in the suffering,

that life is how you sleep it off,

that even though you’re going to return to nothingness,

the key is to drink your juice with gusto

and tell them you don’t need their damn insurance policies,

their classes on how to make spiritual connections,

or even the money sitting in a suitcase

that someone left you, just for being you.”

And so I walked away and into the aether

singing the first part of a song I remembered from childhood:

Little man walked up and down,

To find an eatin’ place in town.

He looked the menu thru and thru,

To see what a dollar bill might do,

One meat ball,

One meat ball,

One meat ball,

All he could get was one meat ball. . .


With that, I felt a little better. . .


it’s a harsh life with future hope predicated on little balls of milk

in the stomachs of suckling lambs.

The cardinal pimp affixing his eyelashes to the leprous girl

who’s been lost for years in the neighborhood,

a single hair on a ballot box is all that was found.

And the weeping tongues that cast aspersions on Wall Street executives

have no idea how the beer stains remained on the carpets

when conflagrations of moths have lived in bell towers

since the beginning of time.

This, the only sense we can make of it.

The mouths of those who speak of love yet murder in syllogisms

is one of the most common predicaments you will ever embroider.

Better to stay home and knit a sleeve from perilous memories

than to walk along the shore of permuting highways.

Just let yourself go and trust that your shadow will help you forget

about treacherous doorways to congestion and solitude,

becoming more voluminous as you die. . .

In The End

all you need is some cash and a little sex to get you

to the next filling station.

What else does anyone need in times like these?

Well, maybe a shoehorn, a hairnet, and a jar full of screws–

things that will last on the road,

as you search for old friends and loved ones

who somehow got lost between a blizzard of words

and an ocean of indecencies.

It’s simple to understand if you put your head to the ground

and listen to the animals as they pontificate away

in a myriad of languages that you once understood

before formal education and 10,000 lectures

finally made you what you are,

someone who’s pleasing to absolutely no one,

including yourself…

Never Again

May the burning embers twirl around your mustachio
and become a river itching itself into a fit of melancholia,
while the pumpkins with metal teeth
snap at the Christ-like pomegranates.
And when the eternal crying begins,
may the faces without eyes suddenly profess,
“My God, I have no idea how you found me!”
This while we read from the papers
our names written backwards in the headlines–
a collection of toys wound up so tight
that we spring to the edge of the world,
and never come back again.

Just Maybe

All told, the world must be at least 100 times larger
than the sandbox I played in as a child,
and though I’m sure there’s interesting things to see,
I don’t care much to explore anymore,
except on rare occasions when I’m certain
there’ll be some pretty girls around,
that I’ll get at least one free sample of something
worth more than a buck,
and possibly talk with someone who still has a brain
and isn’t so completely narcissistic
that I won’t get in at least 2% of the conversation.
And yes, I know there isn’t much to say with an attitude like this,
which maybe you’d have too
if you’d walked in my mukluks. . .


The winds blow as newborns fall from the sky
with eyes that fear ever touching the earth.
Historically nothing has changed. . .
Several centuries earlier a man with some sort of pen
tried to describe the futility of his times:
“Even the butterflies are sad, and the travel stained faces of those
who never reached their destinations are calling out in vain.
A trail of bones is all that will remain. . .”
And now as I walk the floor in a bathrobe that always catches fire
when I stand near the window,
I realize that I died a thousand times before
while seeking answers that forever appear as cadaverous skulls
floating on the backs of poisonous waters. .