Thanksgiving

I.
The wind whirs outside my window dark
and gloomy
Sun had no chance to be seen
through stratus cloud and omen:
Death awaits.

Thanksgiving Tuesday.
What will be left to be grateful for as days go by?
Which bird will be slaughtered for our feasting,
thirsty souls to devour?
Blood of wine and strangulation bring us together
this once per year
as vows are made and broken.
We’ll see you again
We’ll see you again before next year,
before another fowl massacre for
our grateful teeth.
We’ll see you
We’ll see

II.
I wonder how PETA members feel about Thanksgiving.
Do they hold mass vigils to mourn the deaths
of the multiple millions of turkeys cross-country
being stuffed
and groomed for showy-show?

Once per year
the family comes over.
Let’s make it look good.
White picket fence and la dee da dee
Put a blanket over Uncle Jim
passed out in the corner.
Blame tryptophan today.
Acting out denial
Let’s clean house.
Dust off the feather-duster.
The others will be arriving soon and
what will they think if the silverware’s not polished?
She chokes one screaming breath
as ice clinks in glass
on day meant for gratitude.

Sigh.
Just for today, Jim
Just please
Just use a coaster.

III.
Cry

“I’m here!”
Sheila brought Tofurkey stuffed with spelt and hemp seeds
arriving from the séance for fowls come and gone.
She comes dressed in lace
and laced with criticism.
Joins Jim on the couch,
sits on the cigarette burn Leslie forgot to cover up.

At least the whiskey is cruelty-free.

She doesn’t use a coaster.

EJZ 11.24.2015

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“I am not writing the poem; I am just holding the pen.”

As troubles bring you down and darkness follows,
Perpetual blindness where once you thought you saw,
Know that you are not alone.

There is a voice speaking and it calls your name
in the middle of the night,
if you dream and wake gently,
sit long enough to remember,
It sighs
and whispers,
flowing like a river
and calls, waiting
for the small of your back to make contact,
float silent,
water not too cool, too warm,
tepid, somewhere in the middle,
so you lay your head down,
let it carry you
and just when you think
time has grown wrinkled and tired,
no longer in your favor,
a hand passes over your face,
and that voice sings lullaby,
Spirit rocks to sleep

Olive tree drops branch you never noticed.

To step without looking

To know you will not fall.

“You are not finished,” voice says.

There are words in your bones.
There are thoughts in your head that are not your own –
They are the kind ones you never listen to –
They are the true ones you never speak –
Your time is borrowed
Your blood is the river.
Float on, float on

God is writing –
pick up the pen.

EJZ 02.18.2016

Whisper

The opposite of living is not dying –
it is not living.
Existing is different. Surviving is different.
Counting minutes under
breaths of air and
dollar signs
is different

In many ways

life is but a whisper in a scheme,
a breath of air exhaled in wait.

I want to gather up branches
to crown the fruit of time
framed by genuine sound –
accidental laughter or
unexpected song –
what you hear when you catch people
whispering in wait.

Let’s just
stop contemplating history
and remember why we’re here –

Philosophy is a prescription for over-thinking;
dangerous when abused,
necessary for this stage of outburst –
poison overflowing cup,
just enough so that the first sip won’t kill you
and the next
might
but not in the sense of dying,
just in the sense of
the opposite of living.

Let’s just
keep contemplating
in the sense of gazing
like at stars
in space
where everything was known and never spoken,
translated into light and understood
and maybe surreal
in the sense of “above”,
“above-real”
but just for then,
for now,
for right,
for real,
it was real
and with real
and that moment, framed
with sound of unexpected song,
silent,
only felt
as ungasped gasp,
as a slowing of time,
as a stop
because this is living,
this is real,
this is –

Let’s just
keep contemplating –

I want to hear you whisper before you leave.

EJZ 07.29.2015

These Hands

These hands will write
broken words to form full sentences,
complete
not stories
but truths.

The knuckles will crack and bleed
as I drag them, groping,
blind and searching
for an answer.

They will learn
to feel a warmth, another hand,
a safety, a security, a love
and that hand may let go
but these hands will still be mine.

Bruises, chips and cracks will heal
and they will soften
and wrap around another
and whisper,
“Don’t worry,
you are safe in my hands now
and look,
you have your own, too”.

Sometimes, fingernails, painted
will chip;
They won’t be perfect
but they will be mine
and they will be safe
and they will write.

EJZ 08.27.2015

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 to get to know me and My Survival Mechanisms

I.
Peel off the layers of my skin
and I’ll show you what I hide beneath them.

Put down the emotional baggage
and we’ll see if there’s anything left to discuss.

Find the right combination of storybooks and songbirds
to unlock the contents of my soul.

The problem is I think I swallowed the key.

The problem is I’m still reacting to a kitchen table.

The problem is I forgot where I put the lock.

II.
The problem is there’s really no problem
but the fear of the problem –
the problem is the fear.

The problem is the fear
the problem is me.

You see, I never knew how to breathe above water
so instead I preferred drowning.

So the problem is the survival mechanism became a means to my own end.

And when you can’t swim on land but in a pool of your own blood
you start to think the drowning was better
and life becomes a choice between the lesser of two evils –
a presidential arms race where the tyrant always wins
until overthrown by the original survival skill
overridden not even by the drowning –

the ability to breathe.

III.
Poems can seem unfinished
like breaths can seem too long to take
or too short to spare.

The important thing is they are taken
and released.

EJZ 06.17.2015