Mary Zeppa


photo by Anita Frimkess Fein

Mary Zeppa's poems have appeared in a variety of print and on-line journals, including Perihelion, Switched-on Gutenberg, Zone 3, The New York Quarterly and Permafrost, and in several anthologies. She is the author of two chapbooks, Little Ship of Blessing (Poets Corner Press) and The Battered Bride Overture (Rattlesnake Press). Zeppa, a founding editor of The Tule Review, is also a literary journalist; her interview, "The Vision of a Single Person: Clarence Major and His Art", appears in the 2002 University Press of Mississippi collection Conversations with Clarence Major. A 1996 recipient of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission Literary Fellowship in Community Arts, Zeppa is also one-fifth of Cherry Fizz, a quintet specializing in loose and unlabeled a cappella music.


Mary Zeppa Poems


A Living Will

Here, take what's left of sunlight: these shadows
on my walls, these yesterdays in corners,
these dust mote reveries. To you,

I leave the echoes that crowd around
my bones: sonatas, waltzes, lowdown
blues and small tunes with no names.

I open out a diorama, fold it from the spine.
First memory: red metal swing suffused
by golden sun. A child swings out

to meet the light. Their shadows
draw her close. The dead are here
beside us: in our voices, in our touch.

The music plays us all it knows: the slow
laments, the hymns, the intermittent joy,
the steady hunger trapped in bones.

(previously appeared in The Battered Bride)


Rodeo Shabbat

The rabbi tilts back his Stetson,
sweeps his silver-grey tallit
over one shoulder,
plants the heels
of his black cowboy boots
and it's soaring: his tenor, aloft
like a banner. They'd follow him

anywhere, tribe of this Friday night,
in their fringed leather jackets,
turquoise stars of David,
in the 10-gallon hats
they've eased over
their yarmulkes.
In Tucson, Arizona,

this temple remembers:
Rifka and Abraham shake out
their backbones for the bubbes
who went up in smoke. Some
who sway, who sing joy
in this radiant room, some
who clap hands to Shabbat Shalom!

could have been shadows at Dachau,
ghosts at Theresienstadt. Now,
their voices irradiate
darkness. Two
are waving their 10-gallon hats
for the pure joy of keeping G-d's rhythm,
on the pulse, on the pulse, on the pulse.

(previously appeared in Poetry Now)





I Before E, Inc. 2005                                                                                                        Website Design by  Sacramento Web Design