The image of a jungle is coming to mind when I think about my parents dying.

Like I can’t sift through all the wild green leaves
and the noises around me make me feel crowded and alone

I am lost and I can’t find my way out of this place
and even if I could, I wouldn’t know where I was going
so how would I know when I wasn’t lost anymore?
What familiar place could I begin to call home?
What is familiar anyway?
How does love feel when it means something?

Is there a place called somewhere
that somehow
becomes something
more than an upchuck of color
and voices calling you
by a name you can’t remember is yours or not?

Do we ever wake up from this
not-quite-nightmare but far-from-dream?
What’s on the other side of life?
Is that home? Because that’s where you went
and you’re the most familiar place
and the only thing I think of
that starts in my heart and ends with an “ome”.
Is it just me saying “Ohm”?
Is it just me writing?

Is it just me?

EJZ 1.11.2016

No Title

Remembering ALZ

With gasping breath and unresponsive eyes
Is this what a person looks like when she’s sleeping paranoid?
Waiting for death,
did you think if you closed your eyes
you’d never see it?

Did you think you could hold on if you just stared it cold in the face?

Did you see me kneel beside you?
Did you hear me whisper regret,
swallow “I’m sorry”?

Or were they too shrouded in shame for you to know
I meant it
when I said I was supposed to save you?

Did your body feel me say I failed?

Weight of the world I believed in
crashing down under Arizona sunshine –
Heat rises.
Your spirit warmed enough to leave me

Carrying cold and tiny body
I couldn’t even –
no –
I didn’t – no –
I don’t
know what to do now that you’re gone
but here
but not.

Can I hold on if I stare it cold in the face?
You died with your eyes open.

I’ll just keep mine shut.

Wake me when it’s over –
I won’t have to feel a thing.

We, as humans, reach a threshold
where the pain is so much we can’t even remember
what it feels like to feel.
all we can do  is let go
and keep our eyes open.

EJZ 04.20.2016

Death is easy – before and after is difficult.



and you wish
you were still counting.

Even gasping breaths,
painful and strained,
are still signs of maybes –
of hope you know is running out;

But as long as you have one thread of an inhale to hold onto,
you don’t have to grip the air in your lungs
quite so tightly.

It’s when all you hear is silence
that you stop asking if he’s breathing
and worry whether your own life can be sustained
when this one was just taken up
and you wonder whether your heart can hold out

and when you realize it’s still beating,
you wonder – how?
when the force of love was removed from this Earth?
and eventually you think

maybe it wasn’t –
and one day you hear that love is the only force that can defy time and space
and move through all dimensions
and then you realize

the air wasn’t given up
but given over
and you’re still breathing
and just for today,
that is enough
to keep living.

I love you.

EJZ 01.14.2016

Remembering JLZ
04.13.1943 – 01.14.2010


Untitled II

Life goes on whether you show up or not.
People change.
Things happen.
Time goes on
apart from your existence

but you’d never know it
because you weren’t there.

You’d only know if you’d show up.

But then other things would happen
unbeknownst to you.

Are we missing out on all those things
we try to believe haven’t happened?

Who are we?
How do we choose?

We go to sleep and wake up
and so did everyone else we see the next day
but we never think
about that –

until one day

doesn’t happen.

Time goes on.
Things happen.
People change.

Some of them don’t wake up.

And then what?

Life still happens
like nobody knows
or remembers
because they don’t –
they’re too busy

not showing up.

EJZ 03.30.2015

It was April 20th

It was April 20th
when I took you out on the balcony
into the sun
and you died,
looking up

And I took you back to your bed
and lay next to you, crying,
looking up

And I saw two lights,
one yellow, one blue
and I had to let go
and let you be together

And I checked my phone
And I don’t know how many people had wished me a
Happy 4-20
Happy 4-20
Happy 4-20
I’ll light up a candle instead

It was April 20th
when I came to see you again,
this time in New York
This time it was pouring rain
and I said,
“Did you do this on purpose?”
Fitting, you’re the kind of melodramatic woman who would want a rainstorm on a day like this.

Well, I thought,
I just have to get over the Whitestone Bridge
in my little rental Mazda

but not without hydroplaning on the Hutch.

And I started feeling lonely and afraid.

And I said, OK,
Focus, just
sing, just
keep yourself company

And as I hit the high note
in the EZ Pass lane
I had to stop.
In front of me, you were there
in a Subaru Forrester –
Anyway, the license plate bore your initials

And I checked the calendar
and it was still April 20th.

And I thought,
Just stay behind this car and you’ll be safe.

I was on 678 –
the road split, but you knew where I was going so I followed

and I was safe.

And I made it all the way to College Point Boulevard

and you didn’t take the exit.

“Goodbye,” I said,
“I’ll see you soon,”

and you saluted me with your right-turn signal

and the wind.

Looking down,
I saw two stones
on which I placed two more
to hold down two poems,
one for each of you.

This time I didn’t cry.

And I had to let go
and let us be together.


EJZ 4.20.2015
Dedicated to ALZ
3.30.1952 – 4.20.2013