Monday, April 29, 2013

“Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.” Terry Pratchett Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. T. S. Eliot Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words. Edgar Allan Poe Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance. Carl Sandburg

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My article on Sandhill Cranes, originally published as a Facebook Note was republished here. See more of my origianl writing at

Monday, December 31, 2012

January The Twenty-ninth, 2010 Again it snowed today. The light puffs reminded me of those old crystal balls that hold a small model of a town or a forest and white flakes that fill the surrounding liquid when shaken. No doubt, the winter birds will be active again tomorrow, as they always are on snowy days. After the last snowfall, I spied a flock of chickadees and titmice with a wren or two foraging among the trees for the remnants of summer’s bounty. Read more at

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Remembering a Winter Solstice

The sky overhead brightened from black to indigo to that bright purple of dawning to ordinary blue. The red band in the East faded from bright red to the pale color of corned beef. As the pink sky faded, a robin gave its morning cry, answered by the insistent “teacher, teacher, teacher” of a tufted titmouse. The red leaves of the maples and the yellow leaves of the tulip poplar have faded and fallen. The greens of pines and cedars remain to offset the brown oaks which will hold their leaves into winter and spring. Back inside I saw a slip of orange sky above the horizon. It grew and rose as the day progressed. Then the whole round sun was above the horizon. Dawn had long since given way to daylight. In the new light of day I noticed a venerable old oak visible from my kitchen window. It held several green balls of mistletoe. That night I tried some binocular and naked eye astronomy. Orion shone above the eastern horizon. With binoculars, the individual stars were just points of light, except the central one in the sword. This one was a diffuse smudge – the Orion Nebula, M42 in the language of astronomers. The nebula is a stellar nursery, a gas cloud where conditions are proper for formation of new stars. I have seen this nebula through small telescopes which revealed a cluster of four stars in a trapezoid shape. These young stars from the Trapezium, listed as Theta-One Orinis in Burnhams Celestial Handbook. Taurus seemed faint in comparison to its surrounding constellations. I trained my binoculars on Aldebaran, the red star in the lower left corner, and saw it surrounded by a wispy halo. A band of haze must account for that halo and the dimness of the constellation. The Pleiades were as bright as ever. In Japan they are known as Subaru, and I ponder how many drivers in English speaking countries notice the stars surrounding the name plate on automobiles that bear the constellation's name. Have they ever wondered what those stars have to do with Subaru?. I saw six stars in Suburu with my naked eye. The six become fifty or so with my binoculars. Above the Pleiades I saw a very bright object, orange in the binoculars. It was undoubtedly the planet Mars, very close that year. My binoculars were not powerful enough to reveal any details of the surface, though on other occasions I have trained them on Jupiter and seen four of its moons. Auriga, The Charioteer, was visible, but Capella, its brightest star, seemed much fainter than usual. The faint triangle near Capella was not visible, apparently concealed by the same band of haze partly covering Taurus. Together, Capella and the triangle are known as the mother goat and the three kids. Cassiopeia was bright, truly a queen of the polar region. The other constellations surrounding Polaris were hidden behind the trees and the mountain. Soon Orion and his hounds would chase the bull across the sky and the springtime constellations would rise. The falling leaves of the trees had given way, and the trees thrust bare branches to the sky. Soon screech owls would nest in the woodlot near my house. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Add Comment

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Guardian - Strophe: Encounter

She moves in circles, round and round, beside the road. The guardian is not coiling, not preparing to strike, just circling. Is she injured by a passing car? Is she warming up, absorbing heat from the pavement? Is she preparing to give birth? What business is she about on this mountaintop in northeast Alabama? I stop the car but don’t get out. I don’t want to meet the Guardian. I am not motivated to uncurl the scaly body and take an accurate measurement of the guardian’s length. I am enough of a woodsman to have a healthy respect for the power of a mature timber rattlesnake. The snake inspires fear in the minds, but even more so in the emotions, of those who encounter her. Read the full story at

Saturday, November 24, 2012

First Days Slated for February Release

For Immediate Release Contact: Ray Zimmerman: or (423) 315-0721 Contact Ray to order of autographed copies for delivery on the release date. Ray Zimmerman is pleased to announce the upcoming publication of his chap book First Days by Finishing Line Press of Georgetown, Kentucky. First Days tells the story of Coronary Bypass Surgery and recovery. It is a journey from sickness to health, and reentry into a world strangely transformed by the joy of healing. Finishing Line Press is now accepting advance orders with release scheduled for February 1, 2013. From the Back Cover Ray Zimmerman’s new chapbook chronicles the First Days during and after heart surgery. His short, tight poems capture the strange sense of anesthesia’s mystic time travel as he stares death in the face, that dark lady in his dreams. This darkness is offset by Zimmerman’s sense of humor about pain, financial and physical stress, as he returns to the sensory world of chickadees, roses, and even his neighbor’s cigarette smoke, a blessing. His strong connection to nature helps his injured heart heal with the certain knowledge that, though death will one day come, his “atoms will forever pulse through the earth” he loves. - Bill Brown, The News Inside After a fleeting dance with “the lady in black” who says she’ll be back for him at a later date (“Anesthesia”), Zimmerman approaches life after heart surgery with wit and determination. Aware that each moment alone could leave him defenseless and in need of help, he “slept with [his] door unlocked” (“First Days”). Tackling fear and depression, and the uncertainty of a body that failed, Zimmerman allows nature to heal and inspire him through his recovery. Despite emotional and spiritual turmoil, these poems are a testament to our ability as humans to endure. - KB Ballentine, Fragments of Light About Ray Zimmerman Ray is president of the Chattanooga Writers Guild and has previously served as board member, President, and Vice President. His performance poems, including “Sign” (AKA “Mercury”), “No Hair,””Madness,””A Special Place” and “Ham and Rye” have delighted audiences and won prizes in poetry slams. He is the executive editor of Southern Light: Twelve Contemporary Southern Poets from Ford, Falcon, and McNeil, publishers. Southern Light was the featured topic of a panel discussion at the Southern Festival of Books, Nashville, 2011 and recently received a favorable review in the literary magazine, 2nd and Church. Jeff Biggers, Associate Editor of the Bloomsbury Review, favorably reviewed Ray’s Chapbook, Searching for Cranes, in an end of year roundup article. Ray was the subject of a feature article in the September 2008 issue of Blush magazine. Order online at click on “PREORDER FORTHCOMING TITLES link” or send check or money order to: Finishing Line Press Post Office Box 1626 Georgetown, KY 40324

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Southern Light #1

Southern Light tops Local Author List!/pages/Southern-Light/159959427392604 Winder Binder Gallery and Bookstore (Chattanooga, TN) lists Southern Light: Twelve Contemporary Southern Poets as its best selling book by a local author. Their lists of best selling books at their store. reflect only sales at Winder Binder, but could give you insight into what books Chattanoogans are buying. The lists are split into books by local authors, books about Chattanooga, and books by national authors. Other books by members of the Chattanooga Writers Guild appear on two of the lists..Monessa Guilfoil of WUTC radio has published the lists on her blog, Soouthern Light also received a great review in the most recent issue of 2nd and Church, Nashville's literary magazine. Ford, Falcon and McNeil, publishers, released Southern Light: Twelve Contemporary Southern Poets in April of 2011. The book is a diverse collection of works by authors connected to the southern landscape. Each poet speaks, with a unique voice, of a land illuminated by the hot southern sun. Over 180 poems celebrate both regional traditions and life in the New South. Several contributing authors have publshed books since Southern Light was released in 2011, Southern Light includes poems by: Robert Morgan, Penny Dyer, Bill Brown, Bruce Majors, Jenny Sadre-Orafai, Rebecca Cook, Ray Zimmerman, E. Smith Gilbert, Helga Kidder, K. B. Ballentine, Finn Bille, and Dan Powers. Ray Zimmerman served as Executive Editor, while Bruce Majors and Ed Lindberg also served on the editorial team. Humanities Tennessee selected Southern Light: Twelve Contemporary Southern Poets as the topic of a panel discussion at the Southern Festival of Books, Nashville, October 14-16, 2011. Approximately 20,000 people attend the annual festival to meet their favorite writers and become familiar with talented new writers. The Southern Light reading and discussion took place Friday, October 14 at 12:00 noon in the old Supreme Court Room, Legislative Plaza. Panelists included Robert Morgan, Bill Brown, Penny Dyer, and Ray Zimmerman. Southern Light: Twelve Contemporary Southern Poets was also included in Summer Showcase, an exhibition at Poets House, NYC, throughout the month of July, 2011. At the conclusion of the exhibition, a copy was archived in the Poets House library and database.