From many places, speaking truth
and making magic happen. Celebrating language.
Poets' Pages | Title Page | Links
POETRY OF LISA ZARAN
|Accordingly||Suicide Night||The World is Round and Broken|
|There are Destinies Which do not Exist||Atomic||The Carpenter Teaches His Daughter How to Breathe|
Go to Page 2
Although I have in the past,
felt the desire to let myself go,
and probably will again, sooner
than later, at this very moment
I have no wish to wound
myself anymore than I have been wounded.
Nor do I harbor any thought
of hurting you.
Because really, if I think about it,
we're both already hurt.
We're both like a calamity at midnight.
Okay, so me more than you,
but so long as there are birds chirping
outside the window, high up in the ficus's
knobby branches and bees swarming
the bottlebrush and the spit of automobiles
passing, so long as there is you
keeping to your own constitutions
in the other room, your golden cave,
we will be okay. Perhaps tomorrow
we will get the hang of each other.
In your honor, I won't complicate today.
but I am not myself.
You cannot imagine
the little things
that typhoon me
Were it not my duty
to greet the day
and a good attitude,
I might never leave
my bed again.
for fooling you.
For saying all is fine
when nothing is
and for some other viscera
as well, this heart mostly,
something I'm supposed
to be satisfied with
but really only causes
me sudden knots of pain
for confining myself
to the dark wonder
of my mind and wondering
why all the words and numbers
combine in such a way
to seize me
in a state of desperation
rather than release me
into a world of roses
For you are in that world.
You are the rose of my life
but night after night
rather than join you
in sonorous light
of moon and star,
philosophy and mirrored
reflection, with its bubbling
gestures of love, I find
my self retreating
back into its disillusionment,
something I'm familiar with.
By the grace of God
let life look me once again
straight in the eye.
Let a great flutter of hope
take place in my heart
rather than this horrible
imprisonment of once knowing
flight, these now useless wings.
Yesterday so many things!
The sunlight marching over the mountain
like a proud soldier returning home.
The two of us conveniently getting along,
smiling even at the sprinkle of birds
floating high in the western sky.
The two of us being in love, laughing.
Acting out our natural wills, valuing
each others skin and heart and mind.
Talking, our mouths like two seas.
Kissing, the two of us. Knowing nothing
but the cadence of our passion,
caring less for what others thought
or said or did, whether they carried on them
a head of harmony or a sack of haze.
Nothing mattered to the two of us
but us and the sun and the atmosphere
that spun like a gentle breeze all about
and through our hopes and dreams.
Yesterday we were the us of envy,
the type of us that makes other couples
yawn with irritation. Of course, then time
came along and bit our hands.
I don't know what more to say.
It has been raining ever since you left.
What is left
if that heart
of birds is all there is?
If all the known steps
lead into a stunted vault
where no light falls
and nothing is given.
In my mind, all things.
But in my heart
In honor of the last word
where reconciliation is not
Some of us are slaves of love
shouldering the mean and impetuous
tongues of our lovers.
The power of their words
absorbing through all the dense
regions of our mind
and sinking like stone
to the bottom of the pit
in our hearts.
After a night of unrest,
the future opens on a face.
It is not yours.
Mother, stop the train.
It's moving too fast.
The scenery is all a blur,
an ocean of colors I cannot
The hours are dropping like flies.
There was a surburbia on my shoulder
but now even it is gone, wisped away
by the wind and motion.
Mother, there are cities
I have never seen with noises
I have never heard and people
I have never touched.
It's all gone by too quickly.
my heart is too small
or too big
and my life is brief
I am walking past the courthouse.
A thousand pigeons, cooing.
A thousand pedestrians milling about.
The scent of street vendors, cab exhaust, prayers.
Men in monkey suits, lawyers perhaps.
Ladies in reptile shoes. Strangers whose faces
are lost as soon as I pass them by.
There stand the accused, I think, though it hardly matters.
Little nuances ten-fold, a sneeze, a cough, every other lung
in the midst of drowning a cigarette.
A statue of Saint Anthony outside a church
across the street with arms outstretched, beckoning.
He stands on a pillar of cement. He wears an iron robe.
His smile is benevolent. I count my footsteps.
The corner waits for me to arrive.
When I died, the rain shook the orchids
of my soul loose. My body was a bare
plank beneath the stars. The violent blossom
of my breath lifted from my lips
and oh, but the sky looked sorrowful.
I'd rather have died in a boiler room
than here beneath the moon's damp face.
I'd rather have died a long way from here,
what will my father do when his spirit is sent
to fetch mine?
Daughter, he will chime from a long forgotten place,
his voice like an echo inside the gray of my
last thought, why? And what will I say
in return? Why was I born if all my life I ached
and wished that I were dead?
The World is Round and Broken
Watching, I lose myself
in an epiphany of stars,
though their actions mean little to me.
I can't help it. They are there while I am here.
I imagine them closer than my fingers are,
those farther away are my ankles, toes.
Pessoa sits inside of one looking out as if it
were just another cafe window, dripping ashes
on the earth, a steady ghost wrapped in
a calamity of light and trickling gases.
Ursa Major his new home to despond upon.
Dear father, I wonder, which one are you?
Fifteen days I've gone without smiling.
Can you believe that? And you always used to say
how pretty my face was when I smiled,
how straight my teeth were.
You'd be disappointed to know
the clock has piled wrinkles now,
under my eyes and even starting to grow
at each corner of my mouth. My smile lines
have multiplied. I've acquired love handles as well.
Though the rest of me is placemat thin,
it isn't as attractive as it used to be.
I still think with my heart, that pendant
on a chain. No wonder my dizzy spells.
The wine helps. So do the cigarettes.
Father, it's okay that I'm killing myself.
I do it without thinking.
Like you used to say:
It's one of those inevitable things.
Of course at the time, you were referring
to falling in love, not collapsing against death.
But, really, what's the difference but a small,
Which is how my face really is.
There are Destinies Which do not Exist
Starlight. Lust overhead.
Flexibility is important. Measuring seconds as they pass.
The standard of comparing oneself against the incomparable.
Namely: the tender white spread of a figurative life, the lighthouse
with its tiny grain of manic bright, while the sea is considered the norm.
The average dark appointment we must keep in order to keep alive.
Say it was morning. Sunlight clinging to the skin of every constitution.
The bud undone. Birch strong, wrens circling an empty nest. Say,
nothing new. It's all been heard before. After months of quarrel, love
carefully disguised as responsibility, I was born. Late in September.
In the beginning the right hand penned its first poem.
And who is to say things didn't happen this way
because who did not exist until the right hand wrote
it a mouth and filled that mouth with words, which
the right hand invented with part silence, part boredom.
This afternoon the white sun beats on the rooftop
and the television blares war and drums across the universe.
I question their authority, but who am I to say they have none.
The continual ache I feel in my chest says I am no more dead tonight
than a graveyard, upon whose every route the dead have traveled.
In the magic step of evening, the right hand continued to write,
describing a moon and stars and the light they caused on oblivion -
until even oblivion became something. Mechanics took place,
teeth were made, a heart which could weave for itself a tongue
and a face that carried the look of intelligence.
A sea discovered a shore. Birds took flight. An apple fell from a tree
because it didn't know its place until the right hand explained it.
Beasts came to life on a thin thread of yellow milk. Bracelets were flung
as a sound for rivers to follow. Time was written with acrobatic finesse.
The green scent of tears climbed out of the soil, crying obscenities.
Calculations were done in order to pass beyond the husk of reason
until the right hand could sense in its grip a left hand, humor ensued,
illusion became black and white. A great fluttering occured as the right
hand looked the left straight in the eye. The world became impregnated.
Life as we know it came and keeps coming of age.
The Carpenter Teaches His Daughter to Breathe
Stardust. Flanked by steel blade. Bully-saw
and there goes the grain. Breeze buffered
by a closed garage door. My father's hands
drowned in sawdust pushes plank under teeth.
Whirrrr! And I'm stoned cupid again
watching him work. No one thing tends
to the sweet smell of freshly cut wood like
I do, young girl straddling a sawhorse.
His hands moving as birds do, swift
and steady as his fingers take flight carving
cross-hatch with the grain. One man's blade
is another man's hunger.
Like a child I lived above the twisted cork
of death. How a toe bone's connected to a hand
bone, a hand bone's connected to an arm bone.
The sweet scent of sawdust. The sunlight filtering
through the dusty window. My father's deep
norwegian whistle ringing through the spaciousness
of tin roof, cement floor. You'd think I'd have
a consciousness for danger. No, but not even
a brushstroke of minwax could warn me.
The woodchips lashed like solvent
in his lungs. Graceful though
they flew through the air before
finding his mouth
open with explanation as he leaned
down, showing me a singular artistic curve
See this edge, he'd point, touching the bevel
with the tip of one finger.
And I would nod in delight,
kissing the very words he spoke.
The greater wisdom in him,
covering his mouth to cough.
Before the blue indignancies of morning come
to halo out our day with gleaming teeth and sun
set down upon our shoulders, the nothing new
with traffic jams or roadway construction signs,
before the heart of the matter bursts and dissipates
like a shadow before our sleepy eyes towards that
absent space that lingers in the unknown. Before
despair impedes on the lukewarm hours spent turning
pages and answering phones, let me lie here a moment
in your arms.
Born again into a love as ardorous as the sun,
blood red with possibility, amazing the soul as much
as the body. Love my love if I could will all things
it would be us without reason to rise from bed,
no task, no machine to collect telephone messages,
no needy emails from others, just us alone without law
except the law our hearts created, a tiny spot of earth
to set our bed.
You can inhabit me as if I were an office with all
the latest technology. I love you love and know you have
to leave. Just hold me for a moment before
the alarm clock rings.
He said he didn't love me like a husband should
love a wife and I wondered why I was ever a wife
in the first place when prospering in the heart of me
was an unknown girl of twenty who'd never known
the past fifteen years. Who laughed when she heard
him struggle to be kind when out of his implacable lips
rose a metamorphosis of cruelty. Perhaps I don't
see reality as something I am and perhaps his words
are like the lips of birds, non-existent. Left,
like a vacation spot. Tourists flee. Sun goes down
on silence and reverie. All that remains is wind and clouds.
A perfect portrait of paradise.
the word is a blossom pirouetting
from our mouths. How can I say
your voice assails me sometimes
in that narrow hour between sultry
and dark. My ears vow your secrets.
My heart endures in its universe
of impracticalities. Love is so frail.
One harsh truth and it's broken.
It's all in the wrist.
Curved spine like a semblance
indicative of questions.
Ten fingers fluttering
leaves in the wind.
Thigh, bony knee caps,
broken lung. How many
times did my father die
and then reappear, twice
as hungry, ten times stronger.
Ground beneath his feet.
Says everyone: his timing
She, a room inside a room,
more than a closet, less the entirety
of space. Windowless, and yet
a constant imperceptible crossing
of light and shadow she sews
to herself. Centuries pass.
The mourners all retreat.
Gray plait ceiling like a starless
sky she counts each glowing globe
that floats across her eye.
How profound life is
when your liver is floating
in a cosmopolitan.
Each anguish drowned
by the tip of the glass,
a steady immersion, dreams
doubling for thought,
ideas grasping for shores
which no longer exist.
But, never mind that.
I bound you in my photographic
memory, sharp as a frame
in focus when the lighting
so perfect it could
make a strong man fall
to his knees, clutch his
head in his hands and weep
a rhyme so sweet,
consciousness would be obliterated.
I see you now
and try to think of other words.
I do not eat.
I'm thin as a rail.
For me, this is the highest
form of flattery. See how much
I love you?
When I raise my eyes,
when I smile from the blackness
of my nervous stomach,
when I house my body in cloudy shifts
of fabric and eat nothing,
I do it for you.