Survivor Poem

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Haikus of 2015

Here are some haikus I wrote 2015 strung together into a multi-ku.

Love creates all things;
The tips of fingers, filling
the space between time.

Early June evening –
Summer heat graces my cheek
with beads of sweat

I’m trying to find
a reason to love you but
you just really suck.

Drunk people are not
patient, especially when
waiting for pastries.

Wine-bottle window –
Seems better than looking through
Rose-colored glasses

Justice is best served
with a glass of sangria
and ironic prose

I’m remembering.
How difficult it is, but
worth remembering.

I am in distress
but not your fucking damsel –
Princess saved herself

I’m tired of fighting.
I’m resigning my army.
Take the guilt with you.

The grass grows up to
meet my nose and fill it with
freshly watered scent

I’ve loved you before.
I will love you tomorrow.
I love you today.


Stand Up and Speak Out

Many of you know, a year ago today I escaped from an abusive relationship. This year has been a journey of rediscovering and learning to express my identity. This poem was written the day after the criminal charges I pressed were finalized in court and I was able to read a statement on how my victimization has impacted my life. It summarizes the most valuable lessons I have learned this year.

Stand Up and Speak Out
Elizabeth J. Zinn
October 29, 2015

Stand up and speak out
for the times you couldn’t stand it
and couldn’t speak it
It’s not your secret

Stand up and speak out
for all the times you were told
to sit down
and shut up
That your voice was not something that mattered,
Coerced and cajoled to never be heard,
only seen
unspoken, unstanding,


Stand up and speak out
for the fact that your truth
was a threat to their illusion,
delusion of dominance,
so they turned it on you
threatened to torture
to terrorize
if you told the secrets that shielded their shame
I’ll repeat it –

It’s not your secret.

Stand up and speak out
for all the dreams laid to rest
Traded for nightmares you forgot how to wake from-
Stand up
and speak out

Stand up and speak out
Rip out the threads of the threats and untruth,
The damage they drove you to deem you deserve,
Til you could not tell the difference
between the reality choked in their hands
and the concoction they forged
to replace
what you understand
to be real

Stand up and speak out
Take back the your power from the ones who abuse it
Who sewed your mouth shut with lies and lived just to use it
against you,
convince you the truth from your lips
that they strangled from sounding
is a lie you’ve been telling –
they can say it
But they can’t steal it –
They’ll never control truth
with hands afraid to hold truth

Stand up and speak out
For the feelings they’ve trampled, denied you to feel,
Wrung out to dry with calloused disease
voraciously craving control
and deception, your
pulverized by persistent perpetration,
repeated by psychopaths purposefully mis-preaching:
your feelings are flawed
feelings, your fault
feelings, pure shame
feelings, pure guilt
feelings, be punished
feelings, be blamed

are yours
And if they are trampled,
if they are ignored
They are your right
To stand up and speak out for

Stand up and speak out
For your rights
For your wrongs
You are responsible for your own life
It is nobody else’s
to belittle or blame
It is holy
and wholly
your own
to control
and your soul
will thank you

Stand up and speak out
and claim the word, No
and shout back, No more,
You may have pushed me down to the ground
But I,
I am choosing to
Stand up
and speak out
for I can longer stand it
and now I can speak it,
now I can scream
my secret.

EJZ 10.29.2015

If you are suffering, there is help. Your pain is not your secret to keep.

This is a good poem.

Piece together the fragments of your thoughts.
Group them in relation to the spectrum
and spread them out on the coffee table.
some lavender and
chamomile around
so they look good enough to settle in and seep
into someone
else’s cup.

I’ll take one look
and one swipe of my hand
and make a collage out of the puzzle pieces
you bent and snipped and burned to fit
so nicely
into your idea of Truth
and it will be more beautiful than any song you ever sang –
and that will make you run from it.

And you’ll come back kicking
and screaming
No! then
yes! then
and I will hear you
but I won’t listen.

Should I have added cinnamon to make it easier to digest?
Tramadol to deny?

You see, I do things my own way
and I’d appreciate
if you’d shut the fuck up
and let me hear my own thoughts
because they sing more sweetly than your mental cacophony.

You see,
I’ve seen more corners of the Earth than you thought possible.
No, it’s not round;
In fact, it morphs
and sometimes into the shape of a gun with your finger on the trigger
but never long enough for you to shoot,
long enough
for me to change my point of view
and run for my life.

Then it morphs again
and my finger’s on the trigger
but I drop the gun
and let you choose

So, I go my own way,
walk on my eyelashes
or swim through the sand
or gather up roses
and grab onto the thorns,
dig through an earthquake
and I’ll probably fall over
but let me.

I don’t want to be saved.

Because the Earth morphs
and becomes an electromagnetic platform
onto which my feet are drawn,
soles bound still to its core.

I don’t really know in which sense I meant
but maybe that’s the reason they’re spoken the same.
our souls lie in our feet
and that is why they’re so easily soiled
and just as easily washed.

All I know is life is a choice I make every day,
a chance embraced each time I open my lungs to breathe

but I didn’t put the air in my lungs
I just chose to keep breathing.

Have you ever thought about how we keep breathing the same air through different sets of lungs but all the air we’re breathing has been breathed before?
And it never seems to run out?
And maybe
it’s the love of our lungs for the air that keeps it around?

Have you ever thought about how we write different things down,
abstract or real,
but we never run out of words?
And maybe
it’s the love of our souls for the truth that keeps

And maybe
we’re all holding the same pen?

Have you ever started writing and taken a pause to breathe and forgotten where you were?
And you look around and everyone is carrying umbrellas
but you can’t feel the rain?
And then you realize you were just listening to “Dark Side of the Moon” on repeat for three hours
and the pen is still in your hand
and your feet
are still on the ground?

EJZ 06.26.2015


Blame me.

Blame poet.

Blame words. Blame truth. Blame lies. Blame
didn’t know better. Blame knew better. Blame yesterday. Blame tomorrow. Blame time. Blame early. Blame late. Blame traffic. Blame weather. Blame sun. Blame rain. Blame hot. Blame cold. Blame sick. Blame tired. Blame
sick and tired. Blame addict. Blame addiction. Blame drug. Blame rap. Blame disco. Blame hippies. Blame war. Blame government. Blame democracy. Blame anarchy. Blame dictator. Blame Patriarchy. Blame Matriarchy. Blame mother. Blame father. Blame Daddy Issues. Blame unavailability. Blame abuse. Blame abuser. Blame victim. Blame rape. Blame no. Blame yes. Blame conversation. Blame relationship. Blame him. Blame her. Blame lack of communication. Blame too close. Blame too soon. Blame too hard. Blame too fast. Blame too long. Blame too short. Blame sex.
Blame transparency. Blame honesty. Blame pride. Blame envy. Blame greed. Blame money. Blame money-makers. Blame money-takers. Blame corporations. Blame welfare. Blame Liberals. Blame Republicans. Blame Glenn Beck. Blame politicians. Blame politics. Blame institutions. Blame bureaucracy. Blame America. Blame treason. Blame reason. Blame faith. Blame religion. Blame that religion. Blame no that religion. Blame the wrong religion. Blame my religion. Blame your religion. Blame organized religion. Blame
organized chaos. Blame God. Blame Muslims. Blame Jews. Blame Jesus. Blame Jews for Jesus. Blame Christians. Blame Atheists.

Blame different.

Blame black. Blame white. Blame blue. Blame red. Blame green. Blame gray. Blame fine print. Blame never said. Blame I told you so. Blame everything. Blame “To everything turn, turn, turn.” Blame excuses. Blame this time. Blame last time. Blame every time. Blame yourself.

Blame blame.
Blame blame.
Blame blame.
Blame blame.
Blame blame.

Blame – I’ve written blame so many times it doesn’t even look like a word anymore.
Blame – if only overuse wore out the practice.

EJZ 09.16.2015


Since the second poem references the first, I am posting both here.

I’m trying to remember the sound of your voice
but all I can see is your eyes.

Have you ever lay back and just watched the sky breathe?

Why is it
every word you write
or I consider
makes me want to cry?

I’ve never felt this before.
I miss it already.

Every step, breath
to last as long as possible.

and waiting.

Will it last?
Can I make it last?
Can I make it?

I don’t want to say this.
Just breathe silent.
If I shut my eyes,
not here.

I’m afraid to get close –
don’t want to get hurt.
Instead I question,
how long will it take you to bury me alive?
Would it be better to be emotion-strangled?

Today I cried.
I miss you.
I already miss you.
I am so bad at missing people
no matter how much I practice
I never get good at saying goodbye –
too permanent –
fear commitment –
long stability –
long commitment

If I could contain all my dreams in a basket and never let them go, I would do that.

I don’t want you to be just memory.

I wish I could get close enough,
just enough to forget
but I remember everything,
even the sound of your voice,
the way your chest moved under moonlight
and sometimes I can’t speak –
it’s too sublime.

I remember everything
and forget to cope.

Too much, too much!
Sensitive as
begging –
Can I make it out alive?

Lingering 09.01.2015
Lips, starving
for touch, the taste
of things that never were
Chasing the ghost
of a beauty, a truth
proven lie, nightmare
I keep waking up into
I wrote, I don’t want you to be just memory –
Should I have read that one to you?
Would you have understood?
Did you think I’d forget?
I wrote, I remember everything
I wrote, too sublime
I guess I meant too good to be true
but for that moment,
the one,
enamored and waiting
You wrote,
I’ll keep you waiting too
I remember
but I’m not waiting anymore –
Only long enough for truth to turn lie –
Didn’t take long
You do a fine job
Just memory,
Just ghost,
to lips confessing truth,
can’t survive without –
so no more lingering,
no more starving lips.



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

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
with the guilt and the shame of their silence.

This is for the ones in the street
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
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,
of a soul by his –
– did they call it ambition? –
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

When are we going to do something about this?

When are we going to do something about this?

We are supposed to be a nation founded on equality.

We are equally to blame for the death of these souls.

We are breeding a nation of killers –
maybe not as obvious as the ones holding the guns
but we’ve all signed a pending suicide note in each other’s blood.

We are a country of enablers.

We are a country that sends our children to die for peace in other nations
when we can’t even wash our blood-stained carpets.

We are a country that claims to be color-blind
when we’re really just shutting our eyes
and bathing in monochrome lust.

We are a country that has swept our bigotry under a poorly stitched rug.

You don’t solve a problem with a piece of paper.
You don’t solve an imbalanced equation by slashing the equal sign.
You don’t spray a mountain of trash with perfume and call it clean.
You don’t solve a problem by veiling it in niceties
standing on a foundation without integrity
and shrug at its collapse.

You solve problems by empowering people to take responsibility for their own lives.

This jobless, soulless, listless adult child was enabled to live a life unaccountable
by parents irresponsible
who shut blind eyes to a son
locked in his room
taking painkillers
to numb shame,
the scar,
the birthmark
he inherited from unguided parents,
the ones who gifted him a gun,
the same which took nine lives
and left survivors because he wanted his numbed pain known,
a cry for help unheard
by mommy and daddy through shut bedroom door.

This was a crisis waiting to happen.

It won’t be treated that way.

I doubt it will be treated at all.

Until we learn to honor our feelings,
own what is ours,
we’ll be chained together by a common bond,
hidden under the fabric of our fears.

Our government has represented us wholly –
do not blame them.

Blame the disease afflicting the families of our nation –
the one that locks shame in a cabinet –
hides alcoholics in fancy homes –
rapists and batterers behind  “everything’s fine”
and cries itself to sleep at night
until it chokes on its tears
and hides those too.

Pick your poison –
It’s a free country –
The United States of Denial.

Time to burn the rug.

EJZ 06.19.2015