“Ms. Lonelyhearts”

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The phone calls me to attention. An old friend, dead. 89. She had a “good run,’’ as they say, it was for the best, whatever that means. Trumped, quickly, replaced with wincing news that another’s son killed himself, jumped off a bridge too far. Words fail, repeatedly. Searching for emoticons in lieu of emotions. Stir and mix the customary repetitive political jabber, echoing indignation. Where is love? Is it in the stars above? I sink below, mired in timeless sorrow, time beyond time. Multiple failures, fumbles, fright. Who to “speak’’ to? God is dead, or so it’s reliably said. We […]

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“You Know” by Paul Wilner

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“I don’t know,’’ my father used to say when I offered the conversational tic, an adolescent affectation. He liked to put people on the spot. When they said they loved reading he’d ask, “What was the last book you read?’’ Uncomfortable silences ensued, he rather enjoyed it. Or if we were sitting around at dinner and referred to him in third person, the matriarchal duet, my mom and sister emotionally outweighing the two of us. I had divided loyalties at best, anyway. “Who’s he?’’ my dad would say, countering the implied lack of respect, deference. He wasn’t a martinet, or […]

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‘Just Us’ by Paul Wilner

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The Rape Guy approaches the podium, with practiced confidence, Jimmy Stewart smiles. He knows the ropes, been through this drill before. He lives around the corner from my brother-in-law, who says he doesn’t know him but his wife is “delightful.’’ I’m delighted. Aren’t you? Who wouldn’t be? Just a drunken grope and grab, lurch and lock, his Irish Catholic pal always ready to turn up the noise, set the stage. Dominis vobiscum, the Latin Mass is still the best. Closeted libido, directed who knows where, Three in the room. Three’s a crowd, three’s company. Company man. It’s all good. Ask […]

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‘Thoughts and Prayers’ by Paul Wilner

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guns and roses, money, honey, what’s the point. raise, hold, stay, fold, left out standing in the cold. If I had a thought, I’d tell you, bow my head if there’s a prayer. no such luck, no such mercy i am waiting, I am old. give us this day our daily bread, maybe we’ll feed it to the dead. Paul Wilner’s work has appeared in The Paris Review, the San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere. You can read more of his writing in ZYZZYVA No. 106 and No. 109.  […]

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Frost Bit

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Some say the world will end in fire, Some say Vanilla Ice From what I’ve tasted of desire, I’m thinking of a funeral pyre. But if you had to ask me twice, I’d throw the dice. Bring Kid Rock over for a round or two, Burn one or two or three or four, Look out for lice. Watch the backyard Barbecue glow. Orange in the night. Let’s do it twice. […]

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This Evening From Far Away

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Dean Young is the critically-acclaimed author of several books of poetry, including Skid (2002), a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Prize, and Elegy on Toy Piano (2005), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He’s been awarded Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, and has taught at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and is the William Livingston Chair of Poetry at the University of Texas in Austin. And he’s recently had a heart transplant.

At 7 p.m. tonight at the University of California at Berkeley, his peers and his admirers from the Bay Area and farther out will be reading from their work and Dean Young’s at a public fund-raiser. Admission is free, but chances will abound to donate funds for his staggering health care costs.

The following poem is one of many small joys from his new book of poetry, Fall Higher (Copper Canyon Press). Come on out, commune with the literary community, and enjoy more of his wondrous verse.

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Things Lost in Translation

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Devreaux Baker is a Northern California poet and the author of many collections, including Red Willow People (2010), published by Wild Ocean Press in San Francisco. She also produces the Mendocino Coast Poetry Reading Series and produced “The Voyagers Radio Program of Original Student Writing,” which aired on KZYX Public Radio.

“Things Lost in Translation” appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of ZYZZYVA. (You can get a copy here.) Baker’s poem could be described as a romantic plea, urging the beloved to allow the speaker full knowledge of his or her life. “Empty the words from your pockets/rearrange the stars if you have to,/ but tell me something untold before/”

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