Fredrick Zydek taught creative writing and theology for many years, first at UNO and later at the
College of Saint Mary. He has five collections of poetry, and his work has appeared in The Antioch Review, Cimmaron Review,
New England Review, Nimrod, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Yankee, and others. His collection, T’KOPACHUK:
THE BUCKLEY POEMS, is forthcoming from Winthrop Press.
Letter to Palmer After the Death of our Mutual Friend
Dear Faye: In all the years I knew him he never talked
place in the universe or belonging to America.
It always amazed me how much he enjoyed culture and
foreign lands and packing his mansions with
European and Asian antiques but never owned, read
or bought a book until
Rock Hudson died and a tell-all
biography of his life was published. He was a man
who would rather polish diamonds than enlighten his
mind. He liked stuff. He wasn’t beyond taking
people’s stuff if it took his fancy. I often marveled at
how much he enjoyed getting a bargain.
It didn’t matter
if all he was able to get a dealer to do was come down
one penny on the dollar. As far
as he was concerned,
he had a new jewel in his crown because in his world
view getting it cheaper was the name of the game.
It’s a damn good thing he wasn’t born Roman Catholic
because the three things he could never understand
were poverty, chastity and obedience. I think he was
standing up and fighting back. I’ve never known
anyone who could be more cantankerous if he felt in
slightest way devalued or challenged. He seemed
to think he was entitled to have his way in all matters
about all things at all times and didn’t owe anyone
kind of explanation for any of it. As far as he knew
he was right about everything whether he was actually
right or not. He was more bully than most people could
tolerate. But a few of us knew all about the buttons
had been broken when he was just a kid and hoped that
if we just humored him through his tantrums and rough
times he would return to being the fun-loving, caring
we all got to know before he found the bottle and
began the long but sure process of pickling himself to death.
do we deal with a man and a death like this? I think
we do what we always did when he pissed us off. We grin
and bear it because in a little while, we will love him again.
Ashley Boles Originally
from Hokes Bluff, Alabama, is a first year Master’s student at the University of Cincinnati with a focus in poetry.
Some of his poems and short stories have appeared in the University of Montevallo’s fine art’s journal, The
Tower, as well as in The Rectangle, the literary magazine of Simga Tau Delta International English Honor Society.
He enjoys the perks of Dolly Parton on a daily basis.
to the man who sold vino tinto
from a street side shack that wore
christmas lights like a crown.
Nina Sang, buzzed by the Dodge exhaust, as we poured ourselves back in the metal bed to ride up the hill, full of wine, until
it was too dark to notice the gnats. Dominican rain began to beat and blow, bringing small gifts on wind—
liquid love as our bodies danced
in time with tires on cement.
safe inside the dry wood of the
common room, beside a chair she used to remember the rhythm. Its unshaven legs, steady cymbals on a bunkhouse floor, mimicked
the tapping of neon nails against her jutted hip as she dragged lyrics like drying tobacco.
with a voice softer than coffee
sacks over her mango colored tongue.
Her eyes met my open-wide mouth
as she strangled a microphone made of air.
And I thought maybe she was crazy,
like me, for the sound of Billie Holiday
on days that sweat like full
pitchers left in the sun.
and cried. Her voice mourned
along, shaking me out of my Caribbean
The rain, jealous by now, tried
to drown her out, pelting the green tin roof
with sleepy bullets. But in chiffon
sails and breath like wind, she sailed me home, full speed,
until I wanted no more.
Barry Ballard poetry has most recently appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Connecticut Review, Margie,
and Puerto del Sol. His most recent collection
is A Body Speaks Through Fence Lines (Pudding House, 2006)
He writes from
A KIND OF PROOF
When I fell from the Maple and knocked myself
out, you ran to the house screaming that
was dead. I woke, alone, back from the sky
that released me and walked in a trance till help
our neighbor picked me up. We
got ourselves back and swung from the same
cable (because there was a reason to
our fear and then defeat it, a name
we gave to "nothingness" and the simple
given things that go away). The tree still
stands as a kind
of proof, a timeless symbol
with a two-by-four nailed like a window
sill where we sat and viewed the world. a fence
around it, as if the bare roots were sacred.
John Sokol most resent collection of short stories is "The Problem With Relativity," published
by Rager Media.
-- notes from the
How are you,
old friend, dear once-wife? Me? Oh,
women come and go (mostly go), but none speak much of Michelangelo. In truth, I’d still sooner wash your feet with my tears than watch any of them try to start a fire.
“What brought all this up?” I can hear you saying. It all started the other day at work, when Frank mentioned how odd it is that hydrogen and oxygen, by themselves, are extremely flammable, yet when combined to form H²O, they’ll
put out a fire. I blinked and thought of you.
When you were dying and delirious, your eyes closed,
you whispered, “why do you love me?” “Because you’re
a tall drink of water and you saved my life.” “No, really . . . . why?” “Alright. Because you’re
a tall drink of water and you light my fire.” And for five more months,
it was fire and water, fire and water. Adriamycin and cytoxin seared and collapsed your veins. Radiation
burned your chest and back.
Dillaudid and morphine burned holes in your stomach. “Sweetheart, will you bring me some water?
I’m on fire.” So I brought you water, and more water, and water, water, water. Then
they put a drain shunt in your back and removed 3 litres
of liquid from your lungs, and still, a month later, you drowned in your own fluids.
But fire was your last request. So I spread your ashes around the pond in the woods we loved, and, yes, ever since, its been water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink