About the Author
The Christmas Journey
Passed My Hearing Test
Quis Est?
From a Bestiary
Two Sonnets for Alex
Hamlet Contemplates the
   Skull of Gabriel Edmund,
   Recently Born

Seeing My Son
Sailing to Kansas
Winter Trees

World Voices Home

The Literary Explorer
Writers on the Job
Books Forgotten
Thomas E. Kennedy
Walter Cummins
Web Del Sol


Even long before William Zander's poems were written, Robert Frost is said to have stated, “A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” Frost clearly saw Zander coming.

One of my favorite poems in Winter Trees is “Mammals.” It begins:

               And God said: Let there be mammals, maybe.
               And there appeared like dustballs in the shadows
               shrews and voles and hedgehogs…

If that isn't delight, then there is no such thing! Dustballs! The catalog that follows is long and hilarious (“…marsupials waddled / with bags of babies”) and then, in a turn that both surprises and makes absolute sense, the poem moves towards what was clearly Zander's point all along:

                                        …And now the mammal
               looked to the stars, noting its nakedness,
               its germs. It tried to fix itself.
               The snow blew in its eyes. The body muttered,
               grew erect like any predator.

We are of the continuum, he says without saying it. Zander is subtle; he knows his craft. He lets his poems speak; he doesn't tell.

Through Zander's phenomenal images, the outside lives in the inside. No matter the poetic platform—and he is accomplished in many: wit, rhyme, and parody among them—his theme is this: Everything is in us. He has always, it seems, understood that the outdoors, and those natures that go wild there, are ours as well, intrinsically, and a part of those internal natures of human physiology and intelligence, of philosophy, of God, and of human entanglements. Oh, he is fully present in his poems, but his presence is osmotic; the visible world has been absorbed, the nature inside and out is a single nature. In “Autumn,” he says

               Oh what a lesson!
               crow's wing,
               caddis fly, a trout
               going up my bloodstream.

Though it is tempting to quote every moment like this just to have it in my mouth and in my ears, I will not—but you'll find amiable figurative leeches! And play on woofers and tweeters! These poems are filled with deliciously funny and powerful moments. I'll leave the rest of them in their harmonious contexts for you discover. I've, no doubt, said too much already.

But I'll close with the final stanza of Zander's title poem, the last poem in this collection, in which he brings the many-textured journey to a close, a passage throughout which his skill has been as great as his embrace has been wide.

               The Mind of God! Now, while it sleeps,
               is the time to look into its mysteries.
               See how stark it is, yet deep.
               How empty. Save for winter trees.

There is no daft tree-hugging here; no meaningless verbal pyrotechnics. No exhibitionist on display. William Zander should be named the Poet Laureate of holism—our world needs more of the richness, good humor, intelligence, and plain good sense of his work. This collection is a step towards remedying our shortfall.

—Renée Ashley