a moment of missing bells
on a construction site, a crowbar falls on a pail
at such an angle that metal on metal rings out
to the plaza where I sit near mumbling fountains
half in shadow, half in sun, in view of distant water
and I twist my head to catch the sound again
as if a bell has rung, and in that instant I walk again
in Wien amidst the pealing, air-filling, calling chimes
resounding out from corner churches, sending their
iron-made messages of attention and intent
through pedestrians hurrying to destinations of
torte trysts, formal assignations or sitting alone
with tiny porcelain cups in hand, which tremble
in sympathetic vibration, and so the big and
little are joined as the hourly resonance
floats over the city, causes its denizens to
gaze upward at spires and to imagine themselves
ascending, asking how it feels to have ascension
inside them, a tintinnabulation growing, climbing out
of one’s chest since first burst of the clapper striking
told how a small tick has been carved out of time
"David Zieroth has long displayed in his poetry a subtle and unique faithfulness to following invisible threads through the world—hearing calls and offering responses, speaking spells, uttering transactions between what changes and what does not change. In this collection, as he turns the largesse of his poetic attentiveness to the inescapably symbolic activity of travel—to the rich roads of distance within and without his poetic individuality—the results are evocative, enlarging, and touch often at deep mystery. Listen while the poet in a foreign yet suddenly familiar place dreams of 'rhyming paeans . . . both his own and everyone’s.' Listen while the poet hears a chance sound at home and recalls a sound he heard in a faraway locale: listen to the bells that tell 'how a small tick has been carved out of time.' Albrecht Dürer and me is a gift to the reader—a marvel of an addition to Zieroth's ongoing oeuvre."
Russell Thornton, author of Birds, Metals, Stones and Rain
"Nothing, above all, is comparable to the new life that a reflective person experiences when he observes a new country. Though I am still always myself, I believe I have changed to the very marrow of my bones."
Goethe, Italian Journey
"His new collection Albrecht Durer and Me calls to mind how George Woodcock of the University of British Columbia once argued that English-Canadian poets have made almost a separate genre of travel poetry. Zieroth, however, immediately sets himself apart from other roving poets by the sophistication of his poetic technique, the quietly absorbent thoughtfulness of his voice and an interest in classical European culture that is rare in B.C. writers.
He glides through the Vienna from which Sigmund Freud fled the Nazis in 1938 and where, in the Zentralfriedhof, one of the world’s largest cemeteries, Beethoven is buried.
In Italy he engages with cities as different as Florence and Duino (and Trieste where the exiled Dutch writer Halo Suevo is interred). He reacts not as a casual vacationer would but as a sophisticated cosmopolite does, reflecting on the work of certain painters (hence the book’s title), artists and composers.
His poems aren’t mere travel impressions. They probe deeply the persons and places he re-memorializes, the ones that direct how he reacts to his surroundings. And they hang together beautifully with a tone of what you might call practical melancholy. Galileo, he writes, “lived on this street, so says / a tall handsome woman / whose apartment I’m renting / one thousand years old / with modern plumbing / and beams so huge I think of / Pacific coast giants ...”
George Fethering, The Vancouver Sun
“A wonderful read, plus most intriguing. I found the poems highly engaging. A tension runs through your book that kept me absorbed: these turned out to be poems that matter. There’s no mistaking that in each one something important is at stake for the writer, and therefore for the reader. Not that the poems depend on a personality. You push WAY past that into real concerns. And take the reader with you. I’m going to reread the book to see if I can figure out why the poems strike me as so well made, so strong. The illusion is they’re offhandedly strong, but I know that’s not it. In any case, the book is a real achievement—not at all a sidelong glance, as travel writing can be, in my experience. But a forging ahead: strength on strength. In a way, like an artist who can in something as mundane as a still life or a street scene concoct a masterpiece. Something deep is going on in these poems! Something to be proud of, in any case.”
Tom Wayman on Albrecht Dürer and me, a personal review