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.

EJZ

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,
misunderstood,

silence

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-
WAKE UP
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 –
Listen,
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
perception
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

Feelings
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
it
was NEVER
my secret.

EJZ 10.29.2015

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

Today I decided to fly away.

Someone once told me not to be brave,
to just run.

Well, she didn’t tell me –
she told Tom Hanks in that movie.
She also prayed God would make her a bird
so she could fly far away.
So I’m doing the next best thing.

The problem is
my baggage has baggage
and I get charged an overweight fee
after setting off every metal detector
and I have to explain,
“Sorry, that’s just the bullet lodged in my parietal lobe from that time when…
I’m not sure you’d understand…
He was a red-head.
Do you get it now?
I can show you my scars.
They’re all in the journals I’ve kept for the last six months.
Can you just let me on the plane?
I’ll pay the $25 if it means escaping this place
for a week
or a month
or a day
or however long it takes before I feel like running again.”

The thing is
you can’t escape your past,
it always follows you.
All you can do is turn around
and find another airport to tell your story
and maybe this time
someone will listen.

And maybe this time
it won’t just be to keep you on the ground beneath them.
It won’t just be to craft ammunition out of the trust you give
until you have to fly away from another port
and pay another fee
and reluctantly explain, another time,
“Sorry….I’ve got these bullets…”

No, maybe this time you’ll be heard
and they’ll let you fly away
but you’ll always fly back to that airport
because it’s the only one that helps you understand
what it means to fly back home.

EJZ 07.09.2015

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

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

There once was a girl who had a voice

so loud it could shake the moon,
so strong it could lift spirits,
so sweet you could taste it when she spoke.
It would echo when she sang
and fall upon deaf ears
and touch them
so they could even hear the tones of truth and grace.

But there was a curse
that crept
and disguised itself as love,
a song that she could sing to
and she did
and she thought,
“Well, this is great!
But not quite so…
Well, never mind,”
and shut her mouth.

And each time she opened it,
it got a little quieter.

At first you couldn’t tell
until the moon stopped glowing
and her spirit had fallen
and bitter was the only taste she knew.

The curse had stolen her voice
and buried it
in a dark place
where no one could hear it.
It tried to return
but the curse would scare it away again
and the girl was gone.

And she cried
but no one could hear
because he had stolen her voice
her thoughts
her love
her song
and replaced them with fire
and dust
and dark.

Until one day
when she looked for the moon and saw the sun
and a tree
which directed the light down a path
and she took one step
and she felt it –
the tone of truth and grace
she had forgotten but not lost.
She took a step and she made it
to a field with a single flower.
She took a step and she knew it,
at the root of that flower,
her voice.
She kissed its petals,
inhaled her song
and sang louder
stronger
sweeter
than she ever had before
and her deaf ears heard
and felt

and the curse was broken.

EJZ 04.15.2015

One

Claws in the tires of the able-bodied;
Parasite of the able minded –
The weak feed on the strong –
There is power in numbers.

But what happens when there is no strength left to bleed
because it was strong enough to walk away?
Smart enough to hide?
Do the weak feed on each other?
Starving maggots in the dust they’ve destroyed –
If they could feed on sores they’d never go hungry.

Without one, none can follow;
The most powerful number is one.

EJZ 03.26.2015