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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

Death is easy – before and after is difficult.

When
you’re
counting
every
breath,
every
second
still
viable,
and
in
one
moment
it

ends

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?
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

image

How does it feel?

I.
Wake up with regret –
I keep my shame locked up
in a cabinet
next to half-drunk,
open
bottles of wine,
unrolled
tobacco left on my nightstand,
love letters never received.

Deception is a hell of a good time.

Tastes better the second time around
when I know what I’m coping with.

I sleep with the ghosts
haunting my dreams
with nights I’ve survived to write about.

I could write books
about books
I haven’t written.

How does your throat feel
the morning after you’ve been choked?

II.
How does it feel
to feel
anything –
pain –
through the mellow monotony
you’ve learned to call every day?

How does it feel,
six month delay –
aftershock –
realize
four guns
resting
in the palms
of his hands –
a signature
standing between you
and a grave –
(if you’d even be buried –
probably
just swept under the rug
by his mother
with the rest of the family secrets) –
and you don’t even
care –
you gave up the right to life a long time ago
and really? –
could it really be worse?

III.
How does it feel
the morning after
the first night you felt safe enough to sleep through?

IV.
It feels like running,
like prayer, like
drowning –
like holy, like
nightfall,
like death –
like train-wreck,
like savior,
like savor,
like sweet,
like bitter,
like arson,
like air in my lungs, like –
slow down! – too fast,
like first time,
remember?
the first time –
you want to forget
but remember –
the truth –
like truth, like
singing,
like rainbow, like
passion and fire,
infatuation and
self-degradation
but
self-esteemed,
floating on pebbles,
but floating and free.

Deception is a hell of a good time.

It feels like feeling all over again.
It feels like fast forward stuck on rewind.
It feels like a hell of a hell of a time
but it feels
        it feels
         it feels.

EJZ 05.27.2015

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
Yeah…
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,
Alright,
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.

image

EJZ 4.20.2015
Dedicated to ALZ
3.30.1952 – 4.20.2013