Paul Zarzyski (“rhymes with bar whiskey”) left his Hurley, Wisconsin home ground in the fall of ’73 for Missoula, where he studied creative writing at the University of Montana, received his MFA degree, and later taught. While teaching in The Program and riding bareback broncs on the ProRodeo Circuit, he attended in 1987 the first of his twenty-eight consecutive National Cowboy Poetry Gatherings in Elko, Nevada.
He’s made his living since as a performance poet at venues that include The Library of Congress, The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, Festival Hall in London, and The Mother Lode Theater in Butte, where he was featured in 1999 on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” He’s appeared, as well, with the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Spokane Symphony.
I met Paul at the first annual Cowboy Poetry Festival at the Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities (where I now take pottery lessons every Tuesday!) in 1989 — a festival my women’s group and I attended every one of the next 20 or so years. To this day I remember his charismatic stage presence and baritone delivery. This poem comes from his collection, Roughstock Sonnets.
Zarzyski Meets the Copenhagen Angel
Her Levis, so tight
I can read the dates on dimes
in her hip pocket. Miles City,
a rodeo Saturday night.
She smiles from a corner bar stool,
her taut lower lip, white and puffed,
pigtails braided like bronc reins.
She leads the circuit, chasing cans,
a barrel racer in love with her horse,
her snuff, and a 16 second run.
We dance close to LeDoux’s “Daydream Cowboy.”
I’m Zarzyski, rhymes with whiskey,
I tell her–a lover, a fighter,
a Polish bareback bronc rider.
And these Copenhagen kisses jump and kick higher than ol’ Moonshine, himself.
For Debbie Moore
(c)in the name of the poet or assigns. Used for educational purposes and for the promotion of the poet and personal growth of the reader.
Write about a time you met someone who immediately attracted you.