Broken Hands

I don’t like this feeling;
This empty, this
running up stairs and falling, this
unlit matchstick, this
dragging legs on pavement,
this singed,
this scorched,
this damp,
this house is not –
this world is not
a home.

My hands are broken but they still write.

I like the feeling of dreaming.
Closed eyes envision your hands on my bare shoulders,
running your fingers over,
testing the blades for sharpness
as you lay me down
to kiss my clothes off.
I like the feeling of the look in your eyes
and the yes that you take from my lips.

I like the feeling of wine-stained teeth after a full glass,
leaving space for the hue of another
to float on my lips,
sail on my tongue
and swim down my throat
through ocean of blood,
claiming the land of my body,
its own.

I like the feeling of take me away.

I like the feeling of wander.

I like the feeling of smoke replacing the air in my lungs with numb.

I like the feeling of sun
on construction site,
building a thought,
a dream, a goal,
a prayer against a lie.

But this,
this lost and lonesome, this
desert dirt road, this
muffled scream, this
blood-letting soul,
this migraine maze,
this discarded thought,
returning revenge –
I don’t like this feeling.

I’m screaming,
“Replace me!”,
knocking on walls in a 5×8 closet in a school for the deaf.

You tested for sharpness and now your fingers are stained with the blood of my past;
they look like my teeth but a bit less red.
My lips,
now stained with the lies of the sangria wine
and my lungs, disturbed
by the air from this place they believe that they need;
but it’s a slow death,
a morphine drip,
to make you believe there’s no pain
when it’s the only sensation you know;
to keep you here,
dulled –
this house is not –
this world is not
a home.

My hands are broken but they still write.

I like the feeling of pen
crashing on page,
writing scripts for words to call home,
drawing maps,
marking time,
when I’ll walk through streets my feet can feel safe in.

I like that feeling.

I don’t like the feeling leading up to the fracture –
the floating and spinning, the
fear, the
where are we now?
the pencil with erasers on both sides,
writing in language of circular logic –
but I like the feeling of breaking.

I don’t like the feeling of healing –
but I can respect the process.

The house I’ve not built,
the world I’ve not written
is not a home

yet –

My hands are broken
but they still write.

EJZ 05.15.2015

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Response to the Installment over the Greenway

image

This was erected over the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway in Boston last spring.
Articles were published in which the authors referred to it as “the most beautiful thing they’d ever seen”.

I had a different reaction.

While I’ve developed a certain appreciation for the work since writing this poem, I am still out of line with the artist’s supposed intention,  which still leaves something to be desired, in my opinion.

My poetic response, below:

When I look at art,
I want to be elevated,
I want to feel reverence,
I want to feel my legs grow,
to raise me up to it,
I want  to throw my head back, exalted by the rumbling of the greatness within me,
I want to fall in love;

I don’t want to be confused.

The neon weaving cries out,
“Look at me! Look at me!”
So I do and I say,
“For what?”

The idea was to connect past with present
as if that doesn’t speak for itself.
You are commemorating a material experience that no longer is –
Let me build a non-functioning sequin-plated polyethylene statue,
an elegy to an aqueduct and
Ahh….art…

The present
The present
The present –
Your homage to a fleeting moment.
You’d like us grounded,
stunned,
looking upward,
thinking,
Ah…yes…now.
This acrobatic mesh floating above me
Yes, this is where our city is, now.

Looking up?
Looking up to what?
I am looking ahead,
constantly creating in this moment you call now.
I weave the threads of time into the future.
I look up by looking in,
by projecting,
by flying,
forward.

I don’t quite grasp your principle –

but somehow,
you get me to pause,
to look up
and say,
“What the fuck?”

EJZ 05.07.2015

Stop

I looked up “synonyms for power-hungry” and I got
“ambitious”.

In our power-over society with lust for control,
we are taught that, “Stop”
is a four-letter-word,
that “No”
is disrespect to our elders,
but “Fuck”
is just fine
for a girl, barely aged nine
to speak and receive from
men with desire for dominance.

This poem is for everyone who was never taught
to utter the word, “No,”
who were told to erase it, instead, from their lexicon
and replace it with, “Sorry”.

You have nothing to apologize for.

This is for the girl who said, “Stop, no,
it hurts,”
but couldn’t be heard through the palm, open
over her mouth
so she shut it.

This is for the boy on the street
that was beaten for walking to a foreign rhythm,
who could not say “stop” because he did not know
the language of white terrorists.

This is for the girl at the party who can’t remember if she said no or not
because that’s what the drugs were designed for.

This is for everyone who has witnessed a crime
but choked on their words when they went to yell, “Stop”
because the crimson glare from his knife was too much to bear
and the sweat on their palms crippling, cold
so they shoved them in their pockets and ran
away
with the guilt and the shame of their silence.

This is for the ones in the street
starving
for their next hit
crawling on damp pavement,
searching for a needle
because they couldn’t say no that one time
and now
they will struggle to ever say no
to the regret corroding their veins.

This is for the child
petitioned
on the internet
for pictures
of her blossoming body
who couldn’t say, “no”
because he was a grown-up
and her parents
were not there to teach her
or let her
say no.

This is for every time you blamed me
for your addiction
to psychosis
and I couldn’t scream, “No”
as your hand gripped my throat
because I was afraid
that any breath of air I exhaled in attempt to escape
would never come back to me.

I have nothing to apologize for.

This is to remind you that your words are worth more
than the pearls that he gave you in attempt to excuse
each time he would beat you
to convince you
it would never happen again
to keep you
around until he could choke you
with that necklace of manipulation
until you had no lips of your own anymore to speak or say, “No.”

This is to remind you that you are more valuable
than your legs or your breasts or the way that you move
your hips when he begs you and pokes you and
holds down your wrists
as you wish you remembered how to spell “Stop.”

I learned to say, “No”
I learned to spell “Stop”
with an escape route, my two legs, twelve steps and
a restraining order
to leave behind lies,
the bruises and scars,
the insistence
that “No” meant “yes”
because I was his woman,
his property,
like I owed him,
like he was doing me a favor
by intruding my body,
stripped
of a soul by his –
– did they call it ambition? –
Quest
for control –
He is lost.

And I ran

And now,
with a climax of character,
the prowess of principle
an orgasmic oration,
I’m coming
I’m coming
I’m coming
I’m here!

And no,
I won’t stop.

EJZ 04.28.2015

Untitled IV

I am humbled in the presence of books.

Walking down aisles of literature,
suddenly conscious
of every ligament in my body,
blood moving through veins.

Hand lifts delicately,
leaning on air –
I dare not touch a word without proper reverence,
respect.

Remember confrontation
with man whispering at heart,
the kind whose thoughts I sipped slowly,
savored
like wine I didn’t want to leave my cup –

only these books can’t hurt me.

These books can’t pretend to be truth when they lie.

Their words aren’t tailored to get me to read by candlelight in my bed
unless by my own choice.

These books fall asleep on my chest
and are still there when I wake up in the morning.

So maybe
I am stunned by the sensation when my surroundings
are old thoughts on pages
calling out to me to do with them as I please –
The decision,
now in my hands.

I fear becoming what I fear –

Open,
bare,
discarded,
alone
on worn, splintered shelf,
I will not leave you –
I promise.

EJZ 05.20.2015

How does it feel?

I.
Wake up with regret –
I keep my shame locked up
in a cabinet
next to half-drunk,
open
bottles of wine,
unrolled
tobacco left on my nightstand,
love letters never received.

Deception is a hell of a good time.

Tastes better the second time around
when I know what I’m coping with.

I sleep with the ghosts
haunting my dreams
with nights I’ve survived to write about.

I could write books
about books
I haven’t written.

How does your throat feel
the morning after you’ve been choked?

II.
How does it feel
to feel
anything –
pain –
through the mellow monotony
you’ve learned to call every day?

How does it feel,
six month delay –
aftershock –
realize
four guns
resting
in the palms
of his hands –
a signature
standing between you
and a grave –
(if you’d even be buried –
probably
just swept under the rug
by his mother
with the rest of the family secrets) –
and you don’t even
care –
you gave up the right to life a long time ago
and really? –
could it really be worse?

III.
How does it feel
the morning after
the first night you felt safe enough to sleep through?

IV.
It feels like running,
like prayer, like
drowning –
like holy, like
nightfall,
like death –
like train-wreck,
like savior,
like savor,
like sweet,
like bitter,
like arson,
like air in my lungs, like –
slow down! – too fast,
like first time,
remember?
the first time –
you want to forget
but remember –
the truth –
like truth, like
singing,
like rainbow, like
passion and fire,
infatuation and
self-degradation
but
self-esteemed,
floating on pebbles,
but floating and free.

Deception is a hell of a good time.

It feels like feeling all over again.
It feels like fast forward stuck on rewind.
It feels like a hell of a hell of a time
but it feels
        it feels
         it feels.

EJZ 05.27.2015