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Photo by Kenton Rowe


Like Mother, like son—tree-huggers, a pair.  Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers, especially to the most nurturing Mom of all, Mother Earth, from all of her children, flora and fauna alike. Were it not for Mother Earth, Sunday May 14, 2023 would mark my 13th Mother’s Day as an orphan.


Otherwise, may Delia Zarzyski’s legacy live on in all “her stories,” including the following poem, which is missing one key detail. My Italian Noni, Angelina Pedri, with her daughter, my Mom, in utero, traveled to America on the steamship, Saint Paul—which makes me wonder if my namesake is as much nautical as it is biblical?

As The World Turns                                       


Conceived in northern Italy, a mountain town,

my mother crossed the Atlantic, 1920,

in the womb, lived her first twenty-seven years

at 507 Poplar Street, married

a navy man turned iron ore miner,

moved to 505 and stayed

married to the same man on the same street,

never learned to drive,

seldom missed Sunday mass or Friday fish

fries at the V.F.W. or Legion Hall,

raised three boys—prayed, cooked, cleaned house,

washed clothes, shopped for groceries—loved

The Mitch Miller and Lawrence Welk shows,                

listens still to her polka

program, Saturday morning on WJMS,

while baking biscotti, doing something useful, she

 having confessed to her poet son,

on her eightieth birthday, that she’d much

rather scrub her kitchen floor than read a book

because she just can’t stand to just sit

and do nothing, except for tuning in

weekday afternoons to the everlasting soap

opera saga she’s referring to

when she says, with so much joy in her voice,

“time to watch my story,”

though, not so oddly at all,

it’s the farthest thing from it.


 Zeke Zarzyski  (April 28, 2005 - April 25, 2019)

I’ve written more poems in celebration of our dog, Zeke, than I’ve written in celebration of my wife, Elizabeth, and she agrees that I have my priorities in order. Need I say more? Okay then, I will—how’s this: “palindromes” are words or phrases that read the same backward as they do forward—noon, radar, kayak, madam, evil olive…(evil olive?)—but a “semordnilap” becomes a different word when read backward—“palindromes” into “semordnilap,” the most obvious example here? 

Better yet, if you’re familiar with the film, The Shining, how can you forget the scene of the little boy, Danny (Danny Lloyd) reciting “red rum, red rum, red rum…” while speed-peddling his tricycle up and down the colossal halls of the Overlook Hotel mountaintop lodge that his parents, Jack (Jack Nicholson) and Wendy (Shelley Duvall) are caretaking for the winter? You got it—“red rum, red rum, red rum” semordnilapping into “murder, murder, murder….”  


Lest I digress further, however, dare I suggest, only somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that, “In the beginning, God created Dog?” Good!  You’re grinning! As do those in need of service dogs, many provided by organizations sporting the handle “In Dog We Trust.” Which brings us to thee Grinning God, thee Grinning God’s self, who created hilariously zany Zeke, and who must have one hell of a sense of humor to have concocted, named, shaken and poured the “comedic human cocktails,” The Baxter Black, The Sarah Silverman, The Richard Pryor, The George Carlin, The Robin Williams, The Wanda Sykes, The Paul Zarzyski…?  


Finally, the definitive litmus test or polygraphic quintessential question is this simple, this cut-n-dried: anyone who denies talking baby talk to their dog is a lying son-of-a-bitch.

Living Poetry


Down the echo-chamber hallway

from kitchen to my writing niche

filled with screaming

hurricanes of words

through the window screen, I catch wind

of my wife cooing, cooing

baby talk to our Aussie dog, who,

pushing the century mark,

rediscovers puppy comfort

in the long-voweled, two-syllabled

emasculation of his name

over the hard consonant

handle, Zeke, making him   

feel Spike-or-Duke

unneutered pit-bull-macho

in his canine prime. “How’s sweet

little Zekey doing today? Is he hungry

for his Zekey food? Does Zekey want

to go feed horses? Play

Cookie-Down-the-Hall, go walkies,

go pee-pee poo-poo?  Oooooo,

Zekey’s such a good dog.” I smile,

put my pencil down, close my notebook,

slide the window shut, the wind’s words

slamming face-first into the pane—

piling up and melting

against the house like hail

stones horizontally out of the south. I

sit back in what was once

my writing chair, relax my hands,

fingers loosely tongue-n-grooved

 in my lap like an old Italian

woman praying her rosary

at High Mass. I close my eyes, listen,

hear again the osmosis of poetry

seeping into the log-walled soul

through its most organic door

opening like the cover

of a book—not one bit less a book

minus a single printed page.


                                    For Elizabeth

Photo by Jesical Johnston ~ unsplash


Photo by Sande DeSalles ~ Frank & Charlot Beard, Ellensburg, WA

No Easy Way To Bury A Horse


Muscle. Machine. Steel teeth digging

never deep enough to unsee   

what’s seen, there’s just no easy way,

as there’s no easy way to bury

the hymnals of horse psalms    

long ago sung, always a cappella, always

a-gallop on this eternal wind.

                                                 Enemy or friend,

death begets death, let us now confess

aloud from the pulpit mound of mool

this merciful earth lends us,

albeit for a steep price.

                                      Climbing into the grave

beside the mare, Socks,

I cup from my jacket pocket

a fistful of alfalfa pellets

set inches from her lips, inches from

the echoing tremolo

memory of eager notes she’d hold and hold

at feeding time.

                           This final offering  

sans belief in an equine-jesus-

hereafter, sans all reasoning  

but for the one reason I keep

between my sentimental self and the wild

flipside of reasoning

marauding with the gothic herds

of loss.

             Exhausted, tuned to the same old

muted human homily of grieving

on the Sabbath morning-after, I traipse  

uphill through fresh snow to the grave

latticed with jackrabbit tracks, antelope tracks,

scripture, with the intrinsic language

of absence—with this prayer of solace

only the most primal among us

know how to pray for the living.



The December my horse died, I did not

go to midnight mass

to celebrate with a single sip of wine

Christ’s birth. Instead, lit

between a nimbus moon and new snow,

I guzzled mezcal and mimicked the caroling

coyotes down the crick

where weeks earlier I dragged Buck

behind the pickup—horizontal

hooves at an awkward trot

in the side mirror, an image

I’ll take with me to hell. No backhoe,

no D-8 Cat to dig a grave with, I left

him in deep bunchgrass, saffron

belly toward the south

like a warm porch light thrown

suddenly over those singing

No-el, No-el….

                           Riding the same ground

that past spring for horned cow skulls

to adorn our gates, I spotted four

bleached white as puffballs,

methodically stuffed them

into a never-tear bag,

balanced the booty

off one thigh and tried to hold

jog-trot Buck to a walk,

my forefinger hefting

the left rein to curb

his starboard glance.

                                     One by one,

like spook-show aliens hatching

from human brisket, white shoots popped

through that hot black plastic

gleaming in noon sun that turned

my grasp to butterfat. And when I reached

lifting to retwist my grip,

it was sputnik flying low, it was

Satan’s own crustacean unleashed, it was the

prehistoric, eight-horned, horse-eating bug

that caught Buck’s eye

the instant his lit fuse hit powder. Lord,

how that old fat pony, living

up to his name one last time,

flashed his navel at angels,

rattled and rolled my skulls like dice,

and left me on all fours

as he did on that Christmas—high-

lonesomed, hurt, and howling

not one holy word toward the bones.

Photo by Chris Blair - unsplash


Big Poetic Medicine, 2013 (revisited10 years later)

I’ve spent my past 4 birthdays, as I did my first 18, in the home I grew up in—at 505 Poplar Street, Hurley, Wisconsin. My mother and father bought the house (for $2500.00) in 1947, after Dad’s return from the war, and they lived there the remainder of their lives. After Dad died in October of 2008, Mom held forth until her passing in August, 2010. Almost 4 years later, the “empty” house remains filled with their belongings. If asked “the logic” behind this situation, I’d respond with a single word: “sentimentality.” As in, pure, 200 proof emotion—reasoning be damned. Paramount of which, monetary reasoning, because, along with taxes and insurance and upkeep expenses, it costs a small fortune to heat the place during the long Wisconsin winter, and…well...I suppose it’s the same sentimental “mind-n-heart-set” that does not allow me to endure the thought of that house without warmth. You see, Mom and Dad kept the wood furnace, “supplementing" the natural gas furnace, banked with oak and maple 20 hours a day, October through May. To the degree that I recall, later in life, having to surreptitiously open the upstairs windows during Christmas visits—40-below outside, 85-above in! For the 60+ years that Mom and Dad lived at 505, heat was as much a ritual as it was an essential, and it just so happens to be my poetic way, dammit, to cling to this ritual, or tradition, until the last stretched-to-the-max heartstring snaps. 


Thusly, I’ve deemed it also a “ritual” to tend to Mom and Dad’s gravesite at the Hurley Cemetery on Memorial Day. I am determined to make the late-May “pilgrimage” for as long as the Musical Universe allows me this privilege. And since it just so happens that May 25 falls into this time slot, it appears I’ll be celebrating my birthday, for however may years to come, in the same house to which Mom and Dad, in 1951, brought home—from Newport Hospital across the river in Ironwood, Michigan—their first of three “bundles of joy.”








Two years ago, while rummaging through an upstairs closet at 505 Poplar, I came across a cardboard box of my baby memorabilia, including a 4-inch-thick scrapbook filled with “Congratulations!” cards from family, neighbors, and friends, 99% of whom are now long gone. And in the bottom of the box, I discovered my blue plastic infant ID bracelet, complete with the nurse’s cursive that reads “Zarzyski, Boy.” Mom was the worst at making her mind up when it came to decisions, critical or otherwise (“What kind of soup should I buy, Paul?”) and the name of her first-born was likely as critical as decisions came for her. Had I discovered this gem prior to her passing, I might have inquired, “what were your other choices?” In any case, here it is photographed, by Elizabeth, on my pinkie. And that’s Mom's last tablecloth upon which my writing notebook lies open. And the pencil, embossed with the title to my poem, “Words Growing Wild In The Woods,” (about fishing as a young child with Dad) is a keepsake of a community poetry residency I did in Hurley years ago to celebrate the heritage of the Iron Range.


Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko

Photo by Sue Rosoff

“A poet’s autobiography is his poetry.
Anything else can only be a footnote.”
Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko                       

In January 1995, the distinguished Russian poet, Yevgeny Alexandrovich Yevtushenko honored us with his spirited, yet humble, presence at the eleventh annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, thanks in large part to a dear friend of the Gathering, poet-critic Scott Preston, who extended the invitation to Mr. Yevtushenko. My best recollection is that few of us knew much, if anything at all, about the Russian writer’s work or life. It was our way, however, to delve into his poetry the instant we caught wind that he’d be joining us, and the admiration for his sensibilities was instantaneous; dare I quip that we rolled out the “red” carpet of western hospitality for this literary figure as we had never done before? I only wish I could relay here the many personal recollections of those who also shared the stages, as well as attended the behind-the-scenes jam sessions, private corner-table saloon conversations, and, yes, even a wedding ceremony, with Yevgeny as celebrity witness and Russian-proverb messenger.  Moreover, I wish I could relay the responses of those hundreds in the audiences, who sat in musical awe of his words delivered with fervor in both English and Russian—especially “our” western women (and certain western men?), who swooned over the tall, lithe beautiful poet-god with his Cossack charisma and charm. What I wish most, however, is that I had a $5.00 poker chip for each captivated (and capsized) woman I witnessed peering into the deep alluring pools of Yevtushenko’s eyes. To this day I still grin when I think about all those tough cowboys kissing good-bye for good the wife or girlfriend, who they thought they knew inside and out, never again being quite the same gal with whom they arrived in Elko!

Photo by Sue Rosoff 


Memorial Birthday

George Floyd’s murder transformed my May 25, 2020 birthday into a

“deathday.” A similar pall darkened this year's “observance" the day

after the Uvalde, Texas School Massacre. Further affecting my 71st

was a poignant MSNBC interview with Scarlett Lewis, the mother of

Sandy Hook murder victim, Jesse Lewis—he, “Jesse Lewis, 6," being

the very first entry on the Wall Street Journal December 17, 2012 full

pictorial page memorial kept in view here near my writing desk and

referenced in the title of the poem “Ars Poetica Kevlar….”   


Beneath Jesse's photograph, the prematurely brief biographical note

includes, “Jesse liked to think up far-fetched scenarios, asking What

if…, before spinning a hypothetical tale.”

The following poem, echoing Jesse’s storytelling fancy, "spins a

hypothetical tale, a far-fetched scenario, asking what if?”


     Ars Poetica Kevlar—The APK-26 Bullet-Proof Poem:

        Upon Carrying “For Life” the Wall Street Journal

 Sandy Hook Mass Shooting Pictorial Page, “Shattered Lives”  


What worth are the poet’s words

scribed upon thoughts-and-prayers gauze—

cotton, bamboo, hemp, jute—mere pulp

too soaked to clot and stanch  

the temple’s stained glass 

platelets shattered, spilling at the whims 

of invincible ballistics? 

                                         What long-shot odds 

mere body-and-blood still face 

in the wakes of AK-47, of AR-15, 

unabbreviated bursts, if not for this quixotic 

willingness to will our A-to-Z-

26-letter alphabet, head-to-toe, 

impenetrable—the poem’s thin syllables, 

sinewy filaments, microscopic fibrils 

polymerized, twisted, woven, knit, 

clenched tighter than a million fists  

spun from the spinneret page?

                                                      Part myth, 

part wizardry, scripture, sci-fi… why not 

sanctify as supernatural   

this futuristic cure to the cancer 

of lead—metastasized, 

horizontal onslaughts of lead

flatlining we-the-faithful

joy-riding the salvation train 

we-the-faithful board day after day

for safe passage? 

                                Why bother otherwise

synthesizing our choirs of lines

if not to believe this alchemized song

stronger than the speed of evil,

if not to believe its chemistry

flexed, its tensile-strength-to-weight

ratio, its so-called “tenacity”

fifty-five times that of steel? 

                                                 In other words,

let us now fill our pages with these

inked second skins, these full-body-tattoos, 

these sheer, armored leotards, 

sheathing us from our own

prosaic law, from decades of bullet-

riddled dirges, patriotic requiems, 

sentimental anthems. Let our musical 

poetic suits of chain mail DNA, 

of molecular bugle calls, of maternal 

psalms deliver us from all 

future, present, past

tragic headline news amended here  

for good: “Ricocheted Lead 

Returned to Senders—No Victims

Smiling Childishly Below.” 

Jessie Lewis
Photo by: Scarlett Lewis



(Beluga Photo by Anton Bryksin)

How the Beluga Spoons

For a whispered secret or to steal a kiss, I lean out

over her tank, like a longship’s figurehead,

far as a man in love dare reach

without altogether letting go. My fingers grip the rail

behind me, arms contorted to flippers. Rippling

in this aquamarine mirror, a human face

becomes the face of a whale

nosing cautiously through

the surface, that crystalline plane

between two worlds. I smile, her lips opening

into her eye-to-eye cavern. I throw a kiss, toss it

gently with a nod. She dips her lower jaw,

scoops it full as a waterwheel bucket,

and with a gesture, rightly larger,

wetter, more deliberate than mine,

approves our courtship. She chortles

my comic response, my straight-man nonchalance,

ladles another mandible full, and showers me

again with kisses. By this passage, we vow

to the cosmos a romance revived

from eons of dormancy. We feel our way,

sonar and sight, slowly into the gray swales—lovers sounding our one laughter

wave after wave, quasar to quasar,

toward that first rollicking spark and whatever

leviathan god brought it on.


12 How the Beluga SpoonsPaul Zarzyski
00:00 / 02:40

Recoded on COLLISIONS OF RECKLESS LOVE, Open Path Music, 2005

Printed version of poem:


OreanaBooks, 2003




My Polish and Italian grandparents entered this country through Ellis Island. Little could they have foreseen that one day their grandchild, Paul, would adopt a leviathan son named Stub. If this isn’t Stub, his humpback self, then perhaps it’s one of his numerous offspring who the Statue of Liberty seems to be welcoming as She did “our" ancestors in the early twentieth century.  Whether Stub or someone from his lineage, all I can say is "DAT-SA-MA-BOY!"

2-03 The Whale In My WalletPaul Zarazyki
00:00 / 03:54


Bucking Horse Moon Music, 2016

Printed version of poem:


Bangtail Press, 2014








I was born, May 25, 1951, during the Korean War. My generation’s first war, however, was Viet Nam.  As a student at Hurley High in 1969, I bought into our civics teacher’s fervent proclamations of the Viet Nam War being a “just war,”—oxymoronically akin, I learned later, to “Holy War” or “last war.”  My reactionary viewpoint, thanks to the virtue of wisdom, shifted drastically upon coming face-to-horrific-face with a June 1972 magazine cover photo of the naked, screaming nine-year-old Vietnamese girl, Phan Thi Kim Phuc, running directly toward the camera lens after a napalm attack. That single photograph defined everything I would ever need to know, going forth, about war.


On January 17, 1991, I watched, from a remote Montana ranch- house, live television coverage of Operation Desert Storm, which began our full-bore combat phase of The Gulf War.  It was late in the afternoon, and as perplexing, yet captivating, as were the images, I had to pry myself away from the tube to do chores before dark. I still recall today how I’d interrogatively contemplated—just as I had interrogatively contemplated 20 years earlier in 1971—how this war, most certainly, just had to be, once and for all, the last war of my lifetime of war?


I remember also—while feeding my family of 4-leggeds, as well as any additional kindred heartbeats I’d nurtured in the gloaming of that cold, blustery moment—how I’d been transfixed by the bright blue Minuteman Missile silo security lights a mere mile to the east.


Perhaps I came to understand, and maybe even to accept back then, on “The Day The War Began,” as I do today, with our country on the brink of “The Iran War,” how our fellow, soulful, nonhuman plant and animal beings, to whom I continue my caregiving, afford us our solitary, final, sorrowful glimpse of Peace On Earth.


                                             Paul Zarzyski—January 4, 2019

14 The Day the War Began.mp3Paul Zarzyski
00:00 / 02:46

CD: Collisions of Reckless Love 


Produced by Open Path Music, 2006 

(Gordon Stevens, Tim Volpicella, Lee Ray, Scott Sorkin—Producers)


Denny Berthiaume, Piano

Gordon Stevens, Acoustic Bass

Printed versions of poem:

I Am Not A Cowboy—Dry Crik Press, 1995

Wolf Tracks On The Welcome Mat—Oreana Books, 2003 

 Photo Credit:

cplani : Blue Light in Night Sky 






                   “And it’s not a cry you can hear at night

                   Not somebody who’s seen the light

                   It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.”

                                                        Leonard Cohen


Wolves up high are howling Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”

In the wilds of the mind, what better metaphor

A great horned owl hooting, hooting her approval

Aspen leaves, like hi-hats, clicking rhythm to the score.


Buzz-tails in the tall grass rattling their warnings

A polecat left his scent last night while passing through

Prairie dogs tell everyone in town their sad, sad story

Reminders in the wind that others live here, too.



(Chorus)   There’s no way to feel all alone way out west

                  Surrounded by hearts harmonizing with ours

                  No way to judge whose voices sing best

                  Whose souls shine the brightest from a land lit with stars.


Wolverine and grizzly bear, cougar, lynx and fox!

The hottest licks in Francis of Assisi’s Cool-Cat Band”

Bebop Jazz! Reggae! Blues! Hip-Hop! It all Rocks!

Blessed are those with front-row seats in the Wild West grandstand.


Honey bees to chickadees, meadowlarks to condors

Barn swallows, bats, and nighthawks in acrobatic spins

So many maestro species, so many songs and songsters

Mother osprey fishing to feed her hungry twins.


              (Bridge)  All for one, one for all

                              Fellow travelers, sisters, brothers

                              Our kindred-spirit symphony

                              Among infinities of others.



(Chorus)   There’s no way to feel all alone way out west

                  Surrounded by hearts harmonizing with ours

                  No way to judge whose voices sing best

                  Whose souls shine the brightest from a land lit with stars.


Wolves up high are howling Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”

For love and loss, a mournful is a hopeful metaphor

Aurora borealis shoots its cupid notes right through us

Big Mama Earth on lead guitar playing every “secret chord.”


Wolves up high are howling Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”


Photo by zef art


PZ Dictum. #190. The Poetic worth of Literary Earth diminishes with each and every extinction, the definitive truthful irony being that the ultimate extinction of the Poet’s own species is no less, or more, critical in this equation of loss.

Photo by: David Billings

In acknowledgment of Earth Day, 2021, I offer the following Self-Interview except from 51:30 Poems, 20 Lyrics, 1 Self-Interview as a preamble to a recently written song lyric, titled "Western Questions":


…You do write quite a bit out of grief, as did Hugo. And then there’s anger—your poem “The Hand,” for example. Care to address what seems for you rare, yet extremely effective, poetic catalysts? Grief? Anger? Or, if you prefer, ire?


 “Ire” smacks of euphemism. “The Hand” was written out of 200 proof fury—undiluted rage. I was holed up in that old ranch house on Flat Creek south of Augusta, in the foothills below the Rocky Mountain Front. Middle of winter.  Late 1980s. Numerically in sync with the wind-chill temps dipping to eighty-something below zero one night. I was all but hugging the wood stove. Had propane as a backup, but in that open country pounded by severe winds, power outages (which would render the propane heaters worthless) were common. My mission, therefore, was to sleep on the couch in the main room with one ear open and to keep the fire banked, as well as the television tuned in to the latest news and weather updates. I might’ve been watching Nightline or some other late-night news magazine show—I don’t remember for sure. They aired a segment on apartheid, complete with a camera crew on location somewhere in South Africa. What I witnessed—set thousands of miles away in an arid landscape almost two hundred degrees warmer than the climate just outside my window—offended and infuriated me. Despite my physical and emotional distance—my immediate anxiety over the blizzard conditions—I considered the contents of the TV segment as a personal assault on my world. Which is precisely the point, you understand—as long as I’m drawing breaths on this planet, it is my world, my home, and bigotry, racism, in my home, aboard my orb, both saddens and angers me to no end. The local station interrupted the programming with a “severe weather warning,” which, as I recall, included the information that propane at such-‘n’-such a frigid temperature will jell, not allowing it to vaporize, “the end.” Insulating the regulator on the tank was highly advisable. Ripley Hugo had given me Dick’s immense, heavy, hooded fishing parka after he died, beneath which I could sheathe myself in layer after layer of cotton, wool, silk, goose down, polyurethane, you name it. Thus bundled, I not so much walked as “plodded like an astronaut or deep sea diver,” is how I phrased it in a poem titled, “Feeding Horses In Richard Hugo’s Fishing Parka.”

The thousand gallon propane “pig” was set a mere twenty paces from the back door. I wrapped and lashed with baling twine an old sougan (cowboy’s heavy, patched blanket) around the regulator. I’d just eaten my ritual, before-bed bowl of Wheaties while barely fending off the guilt of possibly shorting the horses on their Arctic ration of alfalfa, so it didn’t take much self-convincing, as long as I was hazarding the storm, to prod me toward the barn to pour Cody and Buck their late-night Wheaties flakes as well. Halfway there I turned my back to the wind, noted the flicker of light ever-so-slightly visible from the kitchen window, and became mesmerized by the swirling snow quickly filling in my tracks. “I stood there amazed,” to borrow a phrase from the “Home on the Range” lyric, until the only tracks remaining were the ones I was standing in. Never before, or since, have I felt so connected to this earth, felt so aware of each breath, of the exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen in the lung’s microscopic capillaries. Never have I felt so alive, as well as felt the significance of being so alive. I believe I also experienced for a nano-moment a heightened degree of tranquility in which I could have happily taken my last breath, although I could not have exercised that option even if I chose to because of my need to get back to the house and engage the poem I knew would confront me. Had I not just been accosted by the apartheid footage, I probably would have heated and hammered that minus-eighty wind-chill factor moment into something ornate, joyous, at the poetry forge. (Someday, I’m certain, I will write that poem.)…


Minus the “joyous” prediction 30 years ago:



Bound for the horse barn, the cowboy goes blind

In a wicked-night blizzard, 80 below—

Mankind looking back at our long-ago light

Now barely a-flicker from his kitchen window.


Are we all plodding-on toward some faithful oasis

While talking in tongues and dying of thirst?

Is this all a mirage, or an unanswered prayer?

It just might be both, for better or worse.


         Out in the desert, the arctic, the cosmos

         Molecule, atom, and Big Bang dust—

         Are we of the heavens we of the weather?

         Are we sacred or sinful—boom or we bust?

The cowboy peers back at his tracks nevermore

Out of the black, does our past become future?

Stunned by what was, we fall madly in love

With life in which death is our consummate suitor.

Is temperature linear or is it a circle?

The earth at its coldest spinning toward hot?

Hurricane, fire, flooding and drought,

Do we learn what-is-what to learn what-is-not?


         Out in the desert, the arctic, the cosmos

         Molecule, atom, and Big Bang dust—

Are we of the heavens we of the weather?

Are we sacred or sinful—if we boom, must we bust?

The cowboy peers back at his tracks nevermore

Out of the black, does our past become future?

Stunned by what was, we fall madly in love

With life in which death is our consummate suitor.


Is temperature linear or is it a circle?

The earth at its coldest spinning toward hot?

Hurricane, fire, flooding and drought,

Do we learn what-is-what to learn what-is-not?


         Out in the desert, the arctic, the cosmos

         Molecule, atom, and Big Bang dust—

Are we of the heavens we of the weather?

Are we sacred or sinful—if we boom, must we bust?

Astronaut cowboy in chaps and big hat,

                    Wild-West tamed by ol’ climate change—

                    Adrift, all alone, no horse and no home

                    At Castaway Ranch on the dark cosmic range.


Will one nickering horse wake us in time?

Will we turn to embrace our one saving grace?

Is the earth reaching out for one hope in this storm?

For the truth that will force us to face what we face?


         Out in the desert, the arctic, the cosmos

         Molecule, atom, and Big Bang dust—

Are we of the heavens we of the weather?

Are we sacred or sinful—if we boom must we bust?


Are we of the heavens we of the weather?

Are we sacred or sinful, if we shine must we rust?

…if we shine, must we rust?

…if we shine, must we rust?

PZ Dictum. #42. Not one single human being will be remembered after death in the ultimate wake of the Universe mourning the passing of Its dearly beloved Planet Earth.

Photo by: Joseph Driscoll
02 The Hand.mp3Paul Zarzyski
00:00 / 02:03

Recoded on Collisions of Reckless Love 


Produced by Open Path Music, 2006 

(Gordon Stevens, Tim Volpicella, Lee Ray, Scott Sorkin—Producers)



Photo by Ben Hines, 2019—Parker Curry in awe of
Michelle Obama portrait.

Fairy Tale

First, pity the astrophysicist, adrift

billions of light years away

from observatory earth—yearning

to explicate the deep

hidden meaning of the heavens’ epic,

feeling his illiterate way

through the cryptic black-on-black script

of dark matter ciphers.

                                       Back to terra firma,

now picture the little African-

American girl in pigtails, cotton

floral-print dress and bobby socks. Say it’s cherry

blossom season in DC. She is

learning to read and to write, she

is loving her history lessons

in school, she is having fun on Easter

vacation in our nation’s capitol

where she stares up in awe—her dark eyes,

uncharted stars—at the white marble

statue of President Lincoln, at the colossal

alphabet letters of his

Gettysburg Address. In phonics

she has learned to enunciate

each word—ALL MEN ARE CRE-


                              The little girl thinks about

her blind friend back home. Older,

she might correlate the enormous

letters carved in stone

to a gargantuan braille that should touch

even the blindest-hearted. She does not know yet

how polemics, mixed with politics and civil war,


freed her great-great-grandparents. She’s enchanted

with the giant white man in his giant white chair

gazing down upon her as she now gazes

at the new copper penny sinking slow

to the bottom of the Reflecting Pool,

heads up, as she’d hoped

it would rest, the face of Mr. Lincoln

radiant in the middle of her

calm reflection.

                           She recites

“Star Light, Star Bright

First Star I see tonight…”

articulating each syllable with a wish

she’ll keep secret—something about the blind,

about letters she’s learning to shape

across the page, about darkness

holding hands, at play, with light

to make all good

words in this whole wide world

once upon a time

simply shine.


Zarzyski Dictum #142. The Poet can go too long without swallowing the gusano at the bottom of a good bottle of Mezcal and talking with God. (Or, if not God, then why not Mister Mink?)

For those of you who might wonder how Paul spends the long cold dreary Montana winter nights 35 years or so after “The Make-Up Of Ice” wild-assed sled rides, he drinks with Mister Mink while perusing their photo album of times-and-climes much balmier. You bet—no matter the season, Paul and his mustelid laddie confidant companion stay cozy, thanks to top-shelf tonsil varnish, as well as to the thicker winter coats they both grow.  Here’s hoping you'll join them in their pursuit of inner warmth—the only way you’ll ever decode the DHM (Deep Hidden Meaning) of this poem!

1-08 Drinking With Mister Mink.mp3Paul Zarzyski
00:00 / 06:07
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