B. Lynne Zika

B. Lynne Zika was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. By the time high school was finished with her, she’d attended 27 schools, driven (truly) not by defects of character but by her family’s continuous moving. Her father, Yewell C. Lybrand, Jr., was a writer and poet and among the founding staff (headed by Hermann Oberth and Werner Von Braun) of the innovative but short-lived Space Magazine. Before his death (at 36), he bequeathed her this advice: Make every word count.

            Zika’s poetry, essays, and photographs have appeared online and in numerous literary and consumer publications, including The Rye Whiskey Review, Dashboard Horus, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Global Poemic, Rattle, Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene, Backchannels, Delta Poetry Review, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bluepepper, ONTHEBUS, Muddy River Poetry Review, Suburban Witchcraft Magazine, Wilderness House Literary Review, Telephone, and Poetry East.

            In addition to editing poetry and nonfiction, she worked as a closed-captioning editor for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Awards include: Pacificus Found-ation Literary Award in short fiction, Little Sister Award and Moon Prize in poetry, and Viewbug 2020 and 2021 Top Creator Awards and Hero Award in photography. Website: https://artsawry.com/.

Begotten Son

Behind a hardware store, a boy with his first rifle
stares at the cover of a magazine
trampled into the dust.
He promised his father that for six months
he would only shoot targets—
tin cans, fence posts,
the dryer vent atop his grandmother’s house.
Perhaps he breaks his vow,
kills a cardinal perched in the chinaberry tree,
the one whose largest branch will fall next year,
splitting his grandmother’s house in half.
He would lose his rifle—his pride—
and walk the fields empty-handed, ashamed.
Or perhaps he retrieves the dusty magazine
and tacks it to a wall, a carefully chosen wall
which shields no grandmother
rolling biscuit dough in the kitchen,
her flowered apron shielding the work dress
she’ll wear to her cotton mill shift, one hour away. 
Perhaps he chooses the outbuilding
housing harness and blades for his father’s tractor.
He takes aim, leaving both eyes open
as a good marksman should do,
takes a breath and releases it, 
slowly squeezes the trigger.
The face on the magazine cover explodes.
The boy envisions his uncle’s face
and tries not to remember
the day behind the woodshed,
his uncle’s zipper,
the choking and then the killing pain.
With each scenario, I swipe at my wet cheeks,
giving thanks to the boy for undamming tears
which need to be spilled for other stories:
for estranged daughters, for dead sons,
for mistakes of act or omission
which bludgeon the innocent
and cauterize love,
for all the moments a word was needed
which could not be found
or heard.
Is this salvation? Actors playing our parts,
surrogate lives which allow us to weep
for our wretched, majestic human selves.

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