No Title

Remembering ALZ
03.30.1952-04.20.2013

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.
Sometimes,
all we can do  is let go
and keep our eyes open.

EJZ 04.20.2016

Revisiting

or
Conversations my brain has with itself when I convince myself I’m falling in love

How hard do I have to try to make you think I’m not crazy?
How many times do I have to spell your name before it sounds like my own?
How many keys in this trap door until one snaps?
How many strings strung broke on my guitar until this song about you is in tune?

Monday Monday Sunday Tuesday
When’s the next day of the rest of my life?

Key: C minor
accidental fourth step
below the night we met
in a church, that sanctuary
that day
where we meditated on the scent of indigo
and the sound of lavender ringing
hearts and telling cold
stories that end with goodbye
Good night, good night

Do you believe me, good God?
Have I convinced you?
I’m not crazy, just disturbed
My story ends,

Hello,

and strikes a chord
and hollows out the insides of my brain
What do you think my thoughts taste like?

Oh, and do you know what they told me in art school?
Sometimes
It’s all about the negative space.

EJZ 02.18.2016

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
yes,
but really – Everything’s fine.

Yeah, I cry
sometimes
at night
most nights
every night
when no one can hear me
but
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
bottle
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
right?
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.
No,
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
but
not really.

EJZ 09.24.2015

“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

I am a love addict.

and that may sound romantic
but it’s a torturous hell
and my heart and my life
are an endless, bottomless cavern
that cannot be filled.
Never enough to be quenched, my thirst.

You know, you can’t hold water in your hands
but you try and you try
to form yourself in such a way
to become a vial, yourself
and you’re vile, yourself
but you can’t tell
because all your mirrors are broken
and you can’t see yourself
in the water you’re still trying to contain in your hands –
the ones that couldn’t grasp to begin with
because you think it’s your life force,
your
all that’s left on Earth
and you forget the fountain you strayed from
before you set out on your quest for that unattainable goal
which had you scrambling through mazes and missions and conquests, untenable
and you dropped your key from your back pocket
and it drowned in the water
which slipped through your hands
as you desperately tried to contain it
and friction won’t help
and frantic slits throats
and stupefies –
Losing your head
in the water,
slipping through hands
like time on the shore
and nobody told you
the power was not in the key,
in the water,
it was in you
but you had to let go to find out
and then you find out
there never was water,
just hope
and your hands couldn’t grasp what they never felt
so you’re left empty, forlorn

but there is a fountain

still water,
contained,
the key, floating
and yours
if you choose to look in
and grasp
and say –

I am a love addict
and that may sound romantic
but it’s a torturous hell.

EJZ 09.17.2015

I hold your book in my hands –
weightless.
The edges become my fingertips;
The binding, my tendons,
The creases in pages,
the riverbeds of my palms.
I imagine your eyes
when they read these words before,
processed language to thought to meaning
to discover what I have yet to see.
I smell the coffee-stained pages, you
become part of my lungs.
I feel you wrap around me, warm,
tracing marks left on pages
left for me.
Separated only by a space we call distance,
bound together by what are now my tendons,
touching pages,
whispering words
you’ve written on my hands
for me to see
and remember,
with this book
I am never alone.

EJZ 05.09.2015

Serial Monogamy

Passionate love affair notoriety
Fall in love too fast,
too hard,
too long,
just the way I like it.

Inside crying ambiguity
I left for home,
stopped along and forgot
my destination
long passed,
my past.

Ask me about my scars.
No worries, I’ll be vague –
Too much weight to carry
so I’ll do it myself.

Verily, verily
we roll along –
Tout-suite –
clapping
drums never played

Spit out the hand that never fed you.
Truth be told,
No matter –
it was only yours
Truth be told,
who needed it anyway, yours?

Give freely
Love wholly
Fall quickly
Cry once.

EJZ 08.04.2015