Donations are essential to keep Write Out Loud going    
profile image

Lisa Zaran

Updated: Sun, 5 Jun 2016 01:53 am

Contact via WOL logo


Lisa Zaran is a poet and essayist living in the beautiful Sonoran desert in southern Arizona. She is the author of eight collections. --the sometimes girl (InnerCircle Publishing, 2004) --You Have A Lovely Heart (Little Poem Press, 2004) --Clipped From Our Days (Argonauts'Boat,2005) --The Blondes Lay Content (Lulu Press, 2006) --Subtraction Flower (Lulu Press, 2006) --WiNk (limited edition chapbook) --If It We (Lummox Press, 2012) --Dear Bob Dylan (Little Lark Press, 2015) She is founder and editor of the online journal Contemporary American Voices. She is founder and editor of Little Lark Press. _________________________________________ Her first collection, the sometimes girl, was recently the focus of a translation course in Germany. Information about the course can be found at The collection was published under its German title: das manchmal mädchen _________________________________________ Lisa Zaran's work can be found in hundreds of literary journals, magazines, ezines and anthologies world wide. Her work is heavily influenced by music, especially folk, folk rock and Blues. Many samples of her work, links to other venues that have published her work and audio selections can be found on her web site. Come by and visit her at, sign her guestbook or write her an email. She would love to hear from you! Performance poetry can be found by visiting:


Written work: Girl 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 ______________________________________________ 13 Types of Love There is more than one kind of love. There's the kind that saunters through the rooms of memory, intricate, reverent. Love remembered though often falsely. There is love of lashes and lips, love of touch, fiercely naked. For how often do we put a hand to those we purport to love? Haven't we? Lost love whose spirits wander restlessly. Sympathetic love whose recipients fail to set up boundaries, buoyant in their bereavement, we love them only from the gut, our source of pity. Immortal love, tender love, bashful love, silent love. Love of heart for those we only half remember, grandfathers, great aunts, old neighbors, teachers, childhood pets. And then there is knowing love. The kind that shines through the window, the kind that gives birth and by extension turns an afternoon of tedium into a lifetime of hope. Naturally, I'll do anything. Coercion, deception, sublimation. Originally published in Mastodon Dentist #9 ______________________________________________ Countless Questions What do you suppose happens when a poet dies, deep in the night? Is it true Miroslav, that a lone blackbird wakes and sings for all its worth? And if a poet takes his own life? What then? Does shame keep the lone blackbird quiet? Is it his business to sing anyhow, regardless of perversity, as the poets blood mixes with the earth to feed the plants and cause envy amongst the stones. And what if a poet refuses life before he's had a chance to be born? Should we bury him beneath an eyelid? Should we pose him on the tip of a tongue? What should we do? Murder him? Originally published in HiNgE, Summer 2006 ______________________________________________ Tenderness 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, 2005 _________________________________________ Monday, Monday This fractured start is getting my nowhere. It's going to take a lot more than poetry and wine to scale love's ultimate sigh. I need some kind of God to come down and rescue me. A mayan god would be perfect, with spear in hand. Then come his dances. Being the victim in love is akin to being buried in someone's backyard barbeque pit. My bones refuse to burn with the pork ribs. My soul with its awful voice tries to borrow favors. Hey! It calls to the spirit of a mesquite. Pin me with your thorns, I need to stick around for awhile. Find myself a few bad husbands so I can cavort in peace. If you know what I mean. I thought then that I needed to find a new sidewalk to stroll upon, a new park to listen as I toss my thoughts like madness into the trees. Whoever said life was going to be easy? Every old man is disappointed in his eldest son. Every second another child escapes, and his mother weeps but his father doesn't say one word. He just sits smoking his pipe or his moist cigar waiting for the clock to tell him it's late enough to pour that first drink. Moonlight hangs its draperies across the solid night. Young girls spin like stars, waiting for somebody to notice. *originally published at _________________________________________ Subtraction Flower You could die for it-- love, or refuse it altogether and know nothing except the urgency of youth. Men have been solitary 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. Perhaps every flower you see is a woman and when she's in bloom and when she is blooming red 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 _________________________________________ 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. _________________________________________ 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 believing. and in each chamber of my heart i pray. ______________________________________________ I Could Not Clear My Heart ~who knows what day or time from my brow bursts a memory smuggled from jail to jail. ~siham da'oud I stripped my mind of any thoughts about you. I tore all my dreams to shreds. I left nothing behind and yet, I could not clear my heart. I've built entire memories around you. I've covered you behind walls ten feet high. I took a walk to get away from the sound of your voice. I ran away but my heart would not stop following me. (Audio sample of poem: words by Lisa Zaran, vocals and music by Sigrid Erdbrügger.) _______________________________________________ Segue Suppose a bridge. Then another a few hundred feet from the first, then another and another, bridge after bridge, all crossing the same river with no bridge more sturdy or outstanding than the other. Now suppose a man in the prime of his life, another man, elderly as a grandfather, and a boy of twelve. Suppose a crippled man or one whose mind is in riot all needing to cross the river. Suppose each bridge has a moving floor or optional seats or wheelchairs pushed by stronger men with nothing to do but go back and forth pushing the sick and unable to the other side. Suppose no burden, no eye for an eye, no segregation, no unsteady plank or missing rail, no tattered rope or tangled knot. I could go on. Suppose a bridge. A frail man in his hospital bed. A strong man behind him. Below, the river. (Originally published in Juked, 2009 and The Best of the Web, Dzanc Books, 2010) _______________________________________________ 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. Wait. Hold on. (Originally published by Dicey Brown, Winter 2006 Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2006) ________________________________________________ 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) _______________________________________________ Punishment When using, you are not the same. That sublimity of an altered state, you are not the same. Do not talk to me about faith or the hierarchy of trust. Do not bring the slow jibes of your bright desire into my house of sorrow. I'll lock all my windows. I'll bust all the light bulbs. I won't recognize your voice calling mother through the door. (Originally published by the Ramshackle Review, 12/2010, also upcoming in IF IT WE by Lummox Press. Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2010) ________________________________________________ Spellbound Evening comes with a single thread of moonlight, not wanting or wasteful, like a whisper and with it, my inclusion, as if knowing without being told, I, too, am part of this world. Part of some medical act, created perhaps in a basement with a chemistry set. I circle and I stand there bubbling over with health. One moment I'm happy, the next I'm sick and going to die. Everyone has their own theory. Smoke hangs in the air and my heart, with or without wisdom, beats appropriately. Some call it a tragedy. (Originally published in Juked, Sept. 2010, Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2010) ________________________________________________ Are You Back From Your Grief Vacation Yet? ~Every angel's terrifying. ~Rilke, Second Duino Elegy All over, the scent of orange blossoms. I walk along a dirt road strung with lost fruit. I think of many things, the way the wind tempts the trees. The sound of birds, dragging their worry through the leaves as they flit from limb to limb, their nests full of hunger sitting among the branches. Sometimes I can not bear the weight of wondering how you are. If you're getting by. How your job is affecting your aging bones. If your liver has lost its posture yet. When will one drink become one drink too many. How you're handling the loss of your wife and daughter. Not dead but gone, tired of competing with a bottle. Beyond the orchard's frame, the sky turns a tender shade of pink. There must be a path somewhere between your heart and mine. A way for me to reach you. I remember how bright and quick you always were to smile. What would I find now? Face soft as a crumpled flower? Sorrow sweating out of every pore? A rope of tears hanging by an invisible thread, starting at the corner of one eye and stretching into forever. Stars like crystals begin to appear, dusk blurs the horizon. I kick at a fallen orange. Dig my hands into the warm pockets of my jeans. In a moment it will be too dark to see where I'm going. I turn around and head home. I will probably always worry myself sick about you. You will probably always drink to feel whole or maybe to not feel how empty your life has become. Every angel's terrifying, Robert. The strong ones, the weak ones. All of them. They float hidden behind stars. They do not step down to catch us if we stumble. They hover patiently to take us once we fall. (Copyright © Lisa Zaran) _________________________________________________

All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.

Do you want to be featured here? Submit your profile.


No comments posted yet.

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message