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John Zedolik poet

Inverted Perspective

by John Zedolik


Tree reaches to grasp the sky
with angled talons, while its roots—
fierce—wing through the soil
that supports the pressure and weight

upon that nest of blue or rain,
under which leaves, buds, and fruit
may bloom then drop, dying to more earth
that will support the chance of flight

upon seasons of current and clime
though not of song, which, buried
in the rich, deep dirt that douses notes,
may only induce the tremor of a lone green blade.



Full Time


The streets of Tarquinia are sparse
and even more so where the town
ends at weathered walls and drops

            into steep, forested scarp,

So reaching the limit, it is time
to wend out of these old-blocked

confines into fields that undulate
like Van Gogh’s

Wheat Fields after the Rain (The Plain of Auvers)

but more parched, old gold on this peninsula
farther south though near the sea

Le domeniche sono vuote,
Ma questa è una buona cosa


The way winds like a long wavelength
to tombs named for the painted
leopards, augurs, bulls

—as D.H. Lawrence described
in his literate guide to Etruscan places—

and steps down to the depth where progress ceases
at Plexiglas, younger guardian of those fragile
beasts and men

to step up again to another until all resting places
are taken in


And some day west across the ocean
alone atop a bicycle on the South Side
ascending the thickly-housed slopes

Sundays are empty,
and that is a good thing

to pause on the incline and shake
for a gentle moment a once tended tree
whose green apples still draw the birds

the augurs—like those in the pigment of millennia—
might study in flight

to know the future, which lingers
even until and after the tending of orchards
that still blossom and burgeon into fruit.



Work Ready


Mr. Konipki kept O’Connor
in the small, glassed-in classroom
that muffled the kid-industrial clangs,
with its high tables and chairs

of matching, creaking height
until he could do his fractions,
while we were released into the forges
of the shop where we would toss

pennies and express our amusement
as they heated Lincoln to a glow.
We might have melted pens as well
while O’Connor sat in a high chair,

Konipki red-faced (rumored to enjoy
his immoderate drop) and white-fingered
from the endless chalk nubbed to his cropped
nails in repeated blackboard scrape.

I don’t remember if O’Connor (in five
years, reported to have blown off two-fifths
of his right-hand fingers, firework-foolish)
made it out while we—competent crunchers

of numerators, denominators, true—worked
the alloy of adolescence in the flames
and coals with few useful implements twisted
and hammered to show and ever fewer goals.



Pons Modestvs


I ask only for a hand at the end,
a last bridge to the living,

the pulse of blood under skin
at ninety-eight degrees

and the support of carpals
and their meta kin, firmer

than those craft Xerxes and Caesar
lashed ’cross Hellespont and Rhine,

respectively, though of similar
spring but much less pride and durance,

just a wisp of a warm strand before my struts,
beams slacken, grow cold and still

—withdraw across the gulf to a shore
no flesh-heat will ever reach.




For thirteen years John Zedolik taught English and Latin in a private school. Eventually, he wrote a dissertation that focused on the pragmatic comedy of the Canterbury Tales, thereby completing a Ph.D. in English. For the past four years, he has been an adjunct instructor at a number of universities in and around Pittsburgh. He has published poems in such journals as Aries, The Bangalore Review (IND), Commonweal, Orbis (UK), Paperplates (CAN), Poem, Pulsar Poetry Webzine (UK), Poetry Salzburg Review (AUT), Third Wednesday, Transom, and in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He recently published a full-length collection, Salient Points and Sharp Angles (CW Books), which is available on Amazon.