Tag Archives: Mike Zimmerman

How to Baptize a Child in Philadelphia, PA by Mike Zimmerman

First, clasp the crown of his head
like a football, a hot pretzel,
like the accidental bird flown
in you forgot to let go.

Say “you can be anything.”
Let him drink soda at breakfast;
read him a story at night.
Let this story be about

A car or a dog or a fish.
Say, “I wish you didn’t
ask questions at bed.”
Turn out the light.

If you’re going to the dollar store, bring him with you.
Let him buy Mountain Dew and sour lemons.

Help him with his homework.
When he asks, “we’re mostly water? how
can that be true?” Tell him, “because it’s
in the book.” You don’t know the particulars
Except that Jesus walked on water,
The Delaware must be a sacred thing
despite the bodies in cold clothes
on the news. Baptism happens in water.

If he finds a blue jay with a broken wing, tell him
it serves those Jays right for beating the Phillies.

When hell comes up in church, he’ll ask
“What’s revelation? What’s sin?” Show him
The steel mill again. Tell him, “Son,That time of reckoning is not for us.”


Mike Zimmerman is a writer of short stories and poetry, as well as a middle school Writing teacher in East Brooklyn. His previous work has been published in Cutbank, A & U Magazine, and The Painted Bride. He is the 2015 recipient of the Oscar Wilde Award from Gival Press and a finalist for the Hewitt Award in 2016. He finds inspiration and ideas from the people and places he loves. Mike lives in New York City with his husband and their cat.

“Woodworking Lesson” by Mike Zimmerman

Again, I’m with my father in the wood shed:
My aching wrists hold a rusted bucket of nails
For him while he cuts two by fours. Soon I’ve shied
Away, against a wall, as he saws, sands, and kneels
For leverage. I’m not a very boyish boy. I’d rather
Be in my room, I think, reading a classic, some Homer
Perhaps, or sweeping up the kitchen, or helping lather
Laundry with mom. But he’s picked up the hammer.

“Hold some nails out for me,” he says, once he’s lined
The first one up and tapped it. Then, forcefully, precise,
He brings the hammer up and down until few are flush
With the wood. “Now it’s your turn.” I feel my soft flesh
against my thumb. “What if I hit my finger?” His advice
is action instead: he places the hammer in my small hand.

Mike Zimmerman is a writer of short stories and poetry, as well as a middle school Writing teacher in East Brooklyn. His previous work has been published in Cutbank, A & U Magazine, and The Painted Bride. He is the 2015 recipient of the Oscar Wilde Award from Gival Press and a finalist for the Hewitt Award in 2016. He finds inspiration and ideas from the people and places he loves. Mike lives in New York City with his husband and their cat.