Voracious Verses


Lisa Zaran


The day begins like any other,
with a lot of sun and a little
anarchist's heart inside my chest,
beating its long song of love.

I wake hearing poems inside
my head.  I wake, tired of dreaming.
Tired from kissing my dead fatherís
lips, tired of waiting for the grave

to answer.  It never does.



A child dies floating in sunlight.  The water
ripples against a ribcage, fingers feather-softly, his hair.

A mother breaks into oncoming traffic to avoid
hitting a stray.  Vibratory metal and motion. The purity of impact.

A soldier averts his eyes for one split second.
The enemy upon him.  The ground in his face.  A hornet in his breast.

A grandmother, heart hollow, head empty, looks
to the ceiling and sees eighty seven years, the immutable spirit draws toward this vision.

A son slips a needle into a vein and butterflies
rise up in his brain and lungs flap like broken wings, but isn't life lovely he thinks until he can no longer think.



Most people, when they wish,
ask for more money, more fame,
happiness to partition off on days
when tragedy strikes.  Me,

I just want one moment, a minute
only, to inhabit you.  But, to inhabit
you completely.  As if I were the blood
coursing and keeping you alive.

Memory, mind, the enlightenment
of bodily actions, the organs churning,
the murmuring of bones coinciding
with the flesh, to walk upright, to sit

to eat to drink to swallow to breathe.
To be the voice inside your lungs.
One moment to arrest your heart,
hold it in my mouth, then set it

beating again.



I work above clouds.
Alas, my life imitates art.
I fear falling.
Tree tops frighten me and possess
me with song, all at the same time.

My brother carries a black sack.
Inside, the loves he's lost.
My sister keeps her fists clenched.
Ready to punch the first blossom
that happens upon her.

My mother, bewildered.
My father, dead and recreated as a door
I am afraid to open.
My children, a meadow closed at night,
with gilded tones and far-off laughter.
I can hear them.  Little minaret sounds
and sometimes, car wheels spinning too fast.

My husband, under construction.
My boyfriend,  a sweet bottle of foliage
on the kitchen counter with the morning sun
slivering down to touch his dreamy face.
My spirit, bent internally, swims externally.
Like a blade of tall grass, burning itself in
to the side of a mountain.

Wind, pushing it aside, as if it were handicapped.
My happiness, yet to be.
My heart, an organ with road maps and forests,
places to drown and places to rest.
My father's dead father, something interior
but never found.
My mother's lost mother, probably dead.
Nobody knows.  Pure loneliness, is what comes.

My God, an infant left scourging.
My mind, does it matter?  Lost track, spent, missing
like a missing girl.  Not mad, not crazy.  More like
a circus show with a sign that reads:  Welcome
to the Maelstrom. 

My desires, a corresponding joke.
My maturity, a mechanical reentering, a spinning
door.  My love, a bullet with an interest place
for burial.  My heart, careless.  But really,
does it matter?


A Motherís Version

She has called out his name in her sleep for months.
She has confronted monsters in her dreams.
Monsters that do not flee or restrain or forgive.
Monsters that love to take her heart in their mouths
with teeth
the length of rap sheets.

The boy, by some miracle of deconstruction
has driven off again.  She wish he'd stay put.
She wish he'd relieve her of the particulars.
She hates finding needles, tin foil burned black,
water balloons and the chronicle of clogged toilets.

At night her eyes close on a gondola of fright
and anxiety.  She wishes she had a cigarette.
She wishes for the bygone days of long, summer
afternoons and mint ice cream, scent of chlorine
on his beautiful brown skin.  Strange how children
so much of you.

And didn't he love her just the same?  Without restriction.
Without constraint.  And didn't he find her just
as beautiful as she found him?  And wasn't the love
between them like the kiss of a rose to the edge of morning.
Mother and son.

Before the furnace caught on.  Before the darkness set in.
Before the cold linoleum smacked his face and opium's
elusive shadow became his saint.  Oh, lost, see-through,
dying child in the rain.  So poorly equipped with no umbrella,
lying there on a messy bed like a bird without wings.

Like a slice of stale bread.  Like a hardened bit of chicory.
If she could squeeze some sweetness out of you, she would.
Don't think for a second she walks on eggshells.
Don't for one moment peer at her with the rotary eye
of a bee and think she'll be stung.

You are her first born, her darling baby.  No telescope
can tell you the nearness she feels when thinking of you.
Sister's complain.  Friends vainly try to empathize.
But you are her dark, splotched child with almond-shaped
eyes and at the end
of everything

she can never be angry or hurt or waiting.  Slowly
she counts the stars until finally she will have to stop


© Lisa Zaran