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The Hat in the Sky

Al Zolynas
Al Zolynas
  • After the war,
  • after I was born,
  • my father’s hobby
  • (perhaps his obsession)
  • was photography.
  • New fathers often become
  • photographers, it seems.
  • But he took pictures of many things
  • besides me,
  • as if he suddenly felt it all
  • slipping away
  • and wanted to hold it forever.
  • In one of the many shoe boxes
  • full of photographs
  • in my father’s house,
  • one photo sticks in my mind,
  • a snapshot
  • of a black hat
  • in midair,
  • the kind of hat fashionable in the forties,
  • a fedora — something
  • Bogie would wear.
  • Someone has thrown it
  • into the air —
  • perhaps my father himself,
  • perhaps someone in an exuberant moment
  • at a rally or gathering.
  • It’s still there,
  • hanging in the sky
  • as ordinary and impossible
  • as a painting by Magritte,
  • and it’s impossible
  • how it wrenches my heart, somehow.
  • At odd moments in my life,
  • that hat appears to me
  • for no discernible reason.

Al Zolynas spent his boyhood in Australia before coming to the United States when he was 15. He taught literature and writing at Alliant International University (formerly USIU) for many years. An experienced Zen practitioner, he has recently begun teaching Zen meditation in Escondido and occasionally gives talks on Zen practice at Zen Center San Diego. “The Hat in the Sky” is from The New Physics, published by Wesleyan University Press. The entire book can be read online at capa.conncoll.edu/zolynas. The poem is published by permission. Photo credit: Arlie Zolynas.

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Al Zolynas
Al Zolynas
  • After the war,
  • after I was born,
  • my father’s hobby
  • (perhaps his obsession)
  • was photography.
  • New fathers often become
  • photographers, it seems.
  • But he took pictures of many things
  • besides me,
  • as if he suddenly felt it all
  • slipping away
  • and wanted to hold it forever.
  • In one of the many shoe boxes
  • full of photographs
  • in my father’s house,
  • one photo sticks in my mind,
  • a snapshot
  • of a black hat
  • in midair,
  • the kind of hat fashionable in the forties,
  • a fedora — something
  • Bogie would wear.
  • Someone has thrown it
  • into the air —
  • perhaps my father himself,
  • perhaps someone in an exuberant moment
  • at a rally or gathering.
  • It’s still there,
  • hanging in the sky
  • as ordinary and impossible
  • as a painting by Magritte,
  • and it’s impossible
  • how it wrenches my heart, somehow.
  • At odd moments in my life,
  • that hat appears to me
  • for no discernible reason.

Al Zolynas spent his boyhood in Australia before coming to the United States when he was 15. He taught literature and writing at Alliant International University (formerly USIU) for many years. An experienced Zen practitioner, he has recently begun teaching Zen meditation in Escondido and occasionally gives talks on Zen practice at Zen Center San Diego. “The Hat in the Sky” is from The New Physics, published by Wesleyan University Press. The entire book can be read online at capa.conncoll.edu/zolynas. The poem is published by permission. Photo credit: Arlie Zolynas.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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