• broken image

    Praise for Bright Exit:

    "Honesty will never go out of fashion in poetry, especially as it is channeled through the clean lyrics of Laurie Zimmerman's Bright Exit. These poems are so searching; they press against the veil of appearances, demanding to learn the truth of what's really there --tender hearted, and sensuous, sure, but equally smart and tough-minded, repeatedly, impressively refusing easy sentimentality. It's that rigor of honesty that makes these poems the rich, reliable tutorial in soul-making that they are. I relish them." —TONY HOAGLAND, author of Unincorporated Personas in the Late Honda Dynasty

    "Toward the end of Mann’s 'Tonio Kroeger,' the artist declares that for him nothing is “sweeter and more worth knowing than longing after the bliss of the commonplace.” Laurie Zimmerman’s poems are grounded in that same sense. She has a great eye for detail (a bird has “tiny noduled feet,” mussels have “blue doors, thin wings opening and closing”) and a great heart for the larger events of human life: “Celebration Fragments” is one of a group of poems about coming through breast cancer that are heart-breaking, celebratory and true. The tone is always modest, but poem after surprising poem is the work of a wise and humane new writer." —ED OCHESTER, Editor, Pitt Poetry Series & author of Sugar Run Road


    "Laurie Zimmerman’s collection Bright Exit is a study in loss—loss of names, loss of identity, loss of relationships, loss of footing in the world: “Someone is saying goodbye. Someone/is saying I’m dying and hello.” But these losses do not drown the poet or the reader. Instead Zimmerman’s poetry provides a tender and sure kind of lift out of what could be despair. Her words move the reader toward an understanding that even such a collection of losses can lead us toward a new sense of self and the world around us all, and even as the last poem in this wonderful collection ends, and “the poem folds its wings/but another happiness/flies up,” readers get to fly with it, buoyed by all of these fine poems." —GILLIAN WEGENER, author of The Opposite of Clairvoyance

  • Poems



    It's like when you see a child in an

    oversized jacket


    standing at a light, sucking her lip,

    waiting for the traffic


    to pass and in one glance

    you know her—


    she's forgotten oranges at the store,

    found a coin


    in the bottom of her torn pocket and she's

    wrestling it


    from the coat lining, looking as if she's

    doing nothing,


    just waiting for the light.


    It's when you know for sure, the night's

    having already claimed


    you long enough and there was no dawn

    with its bright rain


    that grandeur beads your days’ frame, even

    the misbegotten


    wishes for love. Sometimes it’s about grief marrying

    someone else's


    sadness, the whole world gleaming and still

    it has nothing


    to do with the shiny currencies

    of happiness.


    In the dark you can begin


    to feel yourself lean in like a hand might

    tack toward what is there

    even if what's there is all that you don't want.

    It loosens


    around you then like a wind's sudden arrival

    releasing the trees


    for a moment reveals the opening

    you can walk through.


    (Cider Press Review, Vol. 17-4)

    Stillness: My Reply

    And when, in the city in which I love you,

    even my most excellent song goes unanswered. . . .   

    ~Li-Young Lee



    Here in this village, where I’m learning

    to forget you,

    the worst of all we’ve ever said

    replies to me.

    I descend into the low meadow

    along the Blackwater,

    cross the deer-tunneled hayfields,

    broad exposures of sun.


    I’m lost here to a gentle clarity,

    light silent

    as wet seeds

    muffled by earth.

    I become a girl again, afloat on her back

    in the water,

    sculling through dazzles of current.

    I drop my histories, move from you


    through gold tassels, past crumbling tractors,

    the stony graffiti

    of glaciers, birds in their churches of leaf

    along the licked paths of river,

    its edges of chicory and pickerelweed,

    into the layered

    quiet countryside where I am safe.


    You are an old wound. You lift off of me.

    Just as the body

    eventually rises from its pallet of pain

    one way or another,

    I lose all memory

    of you, your face shapeless, skin

    cool, unbeckoning,

    every hour of your hard wingless grain

    a dome of ice, unreflective

    of me.


    My lips forget your bruised scent, ache

    at the back of my mouth

    when you kissed me, it rests.


    See how the light

    off the tops of my shoulders is gold,

    how the field shimmers

    through each curl of my hair?


    Rejected by rain, known only by finches now

    aloft over yellow walls of fieldstone,

    my anonymity simplified by stillness,

    by forgiveness of myself,

    in the quietude this close to silence,

    despite bird-hymn and bee-hum,

    if you listened

    you could hear me closing my mouth.


    (Oberon Magazine, 2015)



    I'm not waiting, I'm leaving

    fast, going outside, leaving


    with my one bag unzipped,

    a piece of a blouse hanging


    from the outer compartment,

    leaving and knowing


    there won't be goodbye,

    clutch or slow tug


    on my lips, my hips

    pressed into your


    hips. I'm heading out

    under the sun's angry brilliance,


    the sky green with leaf-glare.

    I'm packing my car like a pistol,


    I'm under the gun, the hot air's

    aggravation of larch fronds.


    I'm crushing my bare feet against

    your new grass, hearing the


    water's reports from the fountain next door

    I'm already missing, next door


    I'll miss, windows that watched us,

    watching now, I'll miss, water,


    leaves, grass, rock-trigger path.

    I’m loaded and locked into


    the barrel of my car, far from

    the porch where you stand, arms folded


    over your Kevlar heart,

    guarding the house of your missing.


    (Poet Lore, 2013)

    After the Marriage

    Here I am in the yard

    standing at the edge of the garden—

    this used to be yarrow

    tangling the stalks of black-eyed Susan

    and the purple fizzed Joe-Pye weed,

    and this, pink-cupped mallow,

    over there a profusion of wild geranium

    I would pull to relocate all summer.


    Here I am before the shrubbery

    of ragged forsythia, roots

    crusted into a muck of fall leaves,

    rake loose in my hand—

    this used to be grass under my feet

    and this, a marigold bed,

    over there a yellow dog, two white chairs

    turned toward the road.


    (New Letters Award, 2008)

  • Contact

    Order Bright Exit on Amazon, at your local bookstore, or message me directly on Facebook.

  • Bio

    Laurie Zimmerman is the author of the poetry collection Bright Exit (Quercus Review Press) and the chapbook Hidden Branches (Carmarthen Oak Press). Her work has been featured in New Letters, Poet Lore, Paterson Literary Review, Cider Press Review, River Styx, Crab Orchard Review, Orion Magazine, Rattle, 5 AM, Oberon, Christian Century, Mid-American Review, Image, and elsewhere, and online at Verse Daily and the Academy of American Poets website, among others. She is the recipient of the New Letters Award in Poetry and the River Styx International Poetry Contest prize. Bright Exit, her first full-length collection, was a finalist for the May Swenson Poetry Award, the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, and the Washington Prize, among others, and won the Quercus Review Poetry Award. Five of her poems were nominated for the Pushcart prize. Her poetry has been featured on New Hampshire Public Radio and she was the recipient of a writing fellowship from the Univ. of New Orleans. She earned her MFA in literature and creative writing from the Bennington Writing Seminars.