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by Lisa Zaran |

The Blues Are All The Same

 ~for Jackson C. Frank
It seems almost too far fetched really, 
too difficult to believe. 
This unassuming moon shining like a copper plate. 
These milkcrate blues. 
This soft trellis of sound 
wobbling through the wind 
as if pouring out from the window 
of some lonely house on the hill. 
How beautiful it is, 
the ghost of your voice, 
haunting this empty valley. 

Originally published in 2River View 10.1, 2005
Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2005 

by Lisa Zaran |

How We Are

 Pale scrapings of people 
with lipstick ringed glasses 
and cigarettes burning, 
and laughter trickling up and down 
their knotty throats. 
What is this, 
a gathering of henhouse critics? 

My father's voice in the back of my head, 
saying, forget that I'm dead and if you 
can not do that than pretend. 

I am standing 
just outside the gallery 
beneath the shadowy bough of a birch. 
The moon is floating in the sky's dark lap. 
Faraway I can hear the ocean sigh. 

Now father, I am asking, 
what smile are you wearing? 
What color are your eyes again? 
How many teeth have you lost? 

Don't you think I want a kiss. 
Perhaps I don't. Perhaps I don't 
want to stand and pretend you 
not dead while the wet, champagne 
mouths of the living tell me how wonderful 
your paintings are. 

As they crook their fingers and strain their necks, 
lose their vocabulary inside the artwork's depths 
and colors. 

Father, I want your reputation to outlive the pursuits 
of others with their iron-on reviews after an hour's 
worth of browsing at a lifetime of your work. 

Father, are you crying? 
Stop that sound. 

Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2005 

by Lisa Zaran |


 All around me, the sky with its deep shade of dark. 
The stars. 

The moon with its shrunken soul. 
Can I become what I want to become? 

Neither wife or mother. 
I am noone and nobody is my lover. 

I am afraid 
that when I go mad, 
my father will bow his downy head 
into his silver wings and weep. 

My daughter, O my daughter. 

Originally Published in The 2River View, 10.1, 2005
Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2005

by Lisa Zaran |

Love Is Believable

 love is believable 
in every moment of exhaustion 
in every heartbroken home 
in every dark spirit, 
the meaning unfolds... every night that sings 
of tomorrow. in every suicide 
i carry deep inside my head. 
in every lonely smile 
that plays across my lips. 
love is believable i tell you, 
in every scrap of history, 
in every sheen of want. 

what can be wrong 
that some days i have a tough time 
and in each chamber of my heart 
i pray. 

Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2006

by Lisa Zaran |

Subtraction Flower

 You could die for it-- 
or refuse it altogether 
and know nothing 
except the urgency 
of youth. Men 

have been 
for ages 
carrying the 
stoniest of hearts 
in their broad chests 
while we women 

begin too early 
brush the brown leaves 
from our shoulders, go 
from bloom to fade 
as soon as 
we see the sunrise 

We let our eyes go first 
Then there is the limp lolling 
of our hearts from side to side 
the tongue we cut away 
the blind kiss on the backlash of night 
the giving giving giving of skin 

As women 
we blindly wish 
past the climax of passion 
as we vanish into a world of men 
whose ribcages we were scraped from 
Perhaps we are born of seeds 
our essence crawling up the stem 
to feed the bees. 

every flower you see 
is a woman 
and when 
she's in bloom 
and when she is blooming 
and when her leaves are wingbeats 
of green in the autumn wind 
beating wings of green, yes 
even as the wind tries to humiliate her 
it fails because 
she's in love 
and only she would die for it 

Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2006

by Lisa Zaran |


 after, when you are driving 
75 miles one way just to get to her 
and her wind-touched hair, 
bleached white by the September 
sun, the gray sky coughing up clouds, 
that is when the doubts surface, 
hard as stones. 

it is late afternoon by the time you arrive, 
the storm has already been through here. 
you are not in your own element. 
you are a runaway. 

but, then she is there, standing right in front 
of you, wet with rain, slender as a branch. 
you watch as she makes her way over 
and your heart gardens, rupturing red. 

Originally Published in Lily, Volume 1, Issue 8, July 2004
Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2004

by Lisa Zaran |


 I went looking for God 
but I found you instead. 
Bad luck or destiny, 
you decide. 

Buried in the muck, 
the soot of the city, 
sorrow for an appetite, 
devil on your left shoulder, 
angel on your right. 

You, with your thorny rhythms 
and tragic, midnight melodies. 

My heart never tried 
to commit suicide before. 

Originally published in Literati Magazine, Winter 2005
Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2005

by Lisa Zaran |


 She said she collects pieces of sky, 
cuts holes out of it with silver scissors, 
bits of heaven she calls them. 
Every day a bevy of birds flies rings 
around her fingers, my chorus of wives, 
she calls them. Every day she reads poetry 
from dusty books she borrows from the library, 
sitting in the park, she smiles at passing strangers, 
yet can not seem to shake her own sad feelings. 
She said that night reminds her of a cool hand 
placed gently across her fevered brow, said 
she likes to fall asleep beneath the stars, 
that their streaks of light make her believe 
that she too is going somewhere. Infinity, 
she whispers as she closes her eyes, 
descending into thin air, where no arms 
outstretch to catch her. 

Originally published in Magaera, Spring 2005.
Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2005

by Lisa Zaran |

Talking To My Father Whose Ashes Sit In A Closet And Listen

 Death is not the final word. 
Without ears, my father still listens, 
still shrugs his shoulders 
whenever I ask a question he doesn't want to answer. 

I stand at the closet door, my hand on the knob, 
my hip leaning against the frame and ask him 
what does he think about the war in Iraq 
and how does he feel about his oldest daughter 
getting married to a man she met on the Internet. 

Without eyes, my father still looks around. 
He sees what I am trying to do, sees that I 
have grown less passive with his passing, 
understands my need for answers only he can provide. 

I imagine him drawing a breath, sensing 
his lungs once again filling with air, his thoughts ballooning. 

Originally published in The Rose & Thorn, Summer 2004.
Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2004

by Lisa Zaran |

Go On

 Born woman. Go on. 
It's farther than it seems, 
but okay. 

Credit card's been stolen. 
Go on. 

Above all, remember, 
whenever you cry, 
husbands roll their eyes, 

and children worry. 

Go on. 

The father that was yours 
gets killed by a lung disease. 

He loved you, at least you think so. 
Go on. 

Drink, smoke, do drugs. 

Go on. 

Drag your crippled bones 
to work. Hate your boss 
behind her back. Smile 

to her face. Go on. 

Eat. Don't eat. Get fat. 
Get skinny. Go on. 

Time fragments. 
Space fractures. 
Lives intersect. 
Wombs bloom 

with new life. Go on. 

Hold on. 

Originally published by Dicey Brown, Winter 2006
Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2006