The Ghost of Denial

I took a poetry course last fall and one of our first prompts was to write a poem with a title structured: “The [Concrete Noun] of [Abstract Noun]”. I came up with “The Ghost of Denial”.

The Ghost of Denial

Everything’s fine.

No, well
but really – Everything’s fine.

Yeah, I cry
at night
most nights
every night
when no one can hear me
it’s how I always got to sleep
so I’m used to it by now.
It’s like
my lullaby.
It’s okay.

And yeah, he’s drinking but
it’s just one
and he’s young, you know
he can handle it.
He’s got a good tolerance.
He’s okay.

And yeah, we fight
but everyone fights
It’s healthy
to fight
and I just get him so
angry sometimes.
It happens, you know
And I am pretty stupid
like he says, you know,
He’s not wrong.
It’s okay.

No, he never hit me.
of course not,
well, that one time
but I really got him angry that time.
I shouldn’t have broken that glass, you know,
it was expensive
and I just get him so
angry sometimes.
It’s okay.
It happens, you know.
It’s okay.

Yeah, I’m bleeding but
you know,
my body,
my soul
just does that sometimes.

And yeah, I’m here
not really.

EJZ 09.24.2015

The Player’s Plight

Enter Stage Right:

Medicine Man brings miracle –
Prescription for performing –
The antidote for agony
from pharmacy of philosophy
is firm foundation,
and benefit
of the doubt is a powerful drug –
it can knock you out for years
as long as you keep using it.

Stage set with scene of full bed,
pillow at each side,
as if made for two;
but she read the script,
she knows each night of this play is spent alone –
she knows the plot twist called loneliness,
and she remembers when that room was furnished with fantasy
and she wasn’t alone.

A body lay there, sleeping,
awakened by memories of the script she wrote –
he must have read it wrong.

She had learned to be an actress
who only knew her role
in a script she didn’t write
and every single benefit of every single doubt
was given to the unseen,
shaking hand of the playwright
who seemed to change in shape and form and meaning
the longer she kept using it.

So she thought, maybe,
maybe if she said it this way
or maybe,
maybe if she smiled that way,
the director wouldn’t macerate her makeup
with crude, chastising, cruelties,
vaguely very real threats,
a gun to her head,
“Do it BETTER,”
which really meant, do it “MY WAY”,
which seemed to change in shape and form and meaning
the longer he kept using her.

the director has nothing without the actress.
The actress can just find another script
or write her own.

So maybe,
she didn’t want to be an actress anymore.

what happens when actress tries to become director is
she gets fired
or maybe,
she walks away,
or runs,
by one who can play “quiet” better.

Either way.

Maybe she read the script wrong
or maybe –
bad script.

Either way.

Maybe I don’t want to be an actress anymore.
I want to stop pretending this wasn’t about me in the first place.

The bed looks pretty all nice and made
with plethora of pillows
and lace overlays,
daffodils dallying on duvet cover
which everybody knows is just for show
but doesn’t it look nice?
Makes it look like home
which, of course,
is where the heart is.

But last time I checked
I took my heart with me
and lay it down to sleep,
buried in my chest
under covers,
a blanket worn, but present,
a gift from miracle maker –
Medicine Man,
lying in firm foundation,
as I turn to see
full space,

and I miss
something –
No, not you,
I just
you were something worth missing.

EJZ 07.05.2015


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