Good Friday

978-1-881515-30-2 Paperback
5.5 x 8.5 x 0 in
68 pp.
Pub Date: 08/01/2000


  • Paperback $5.00
Winner of the 1999 Texas Review Poetry Prize
In his poem, "Settings," Seamus Heaney, asks, "Where does the spirit live? Inside or outside/ Things remembered, made things, things unmade?" In the Western tradition of lyric poetry, Philip Heldrich's Good Friday examines the essence of self forged in the spirit of place. His poems, like those of William Stafford, James Wright, and Robert Bly, ask difficult questions about the nature of our souls, about our wavering faiths, and our desire for deeper revelations. Rooted in the landscape of the Great Plains, these are poems of searching. Filled with tenderness and compassion, humor and irony, Good Friday takes its readers on much more than a journey of words into a world of prairie fire, barbed wire, migrating birds, tall grass, and wind.


Late in the afternoon, he comes into my office,
asks how to spell leukemia, says he can no longer look up
words for cancer in his dictionary, which is ironic, 
since his whole life has been the study of philology.
I search the pages that separate him from me, 
flip past words like lacuna, language, lesion, 
recognizing that it's not the search that matters.
He needs to sit, let someone know in his way what's wrong,
why he comes to the office each day looking older and older,
as if the grey in his hair could turn a shade whiter.
The chemo for my wife, he says, is no longer working.
As he tells me these things, I want to tell him about my wife,
how last year I waited alone in a busy room while they removed 
part of  her breast. We agreed not to tell our family and friends,
not to worry them about something so small as an ounce of flesh.

Published by Texas Review Press