By Lisa Zaran:


does the world
not fall into my lap.

And if God
were to send me
a private message,
would I react?

possibly not knowing,
reluctant in every passing

Nor trusting,
holding the weight
of every word spoken
in the palm of my hand,
looking into the not-so-distant
future of every gesture
as if behind each
was a guise
or a secret.

There’s always
the thought
that something
might go terribly wrong.

Every day
the world falls
into my lap
and every day
I’m afraid to touch it
frightened of what it might bring.


It is a chorus, her mother thought
when she was born, a fragile lilt
of voices singing rise rise rise
as if her daughter were already a myth.

She was a knowledgeable child,
too trusting perhaps but never flighty,
no never that. Her center could always
grasp what her mind could not.

She learned very early to trust
her body, its rhythms and advice.
She being an only child, grew with the speed
of those shown to know everything

in corresponding order.
This is your nose, see, touch it.
These are your feet. Soon you will walk.
Out there, beyond this window, is the world.

Which is also a perception.
See that tree over there? Could be
a madman standing in utter stillness
in the breach of night. Shhhhh.

The earth is tired now. The moon is up.
Lock the door, fasten the windows.
Sleep and dream of every possibility.
For beyond this childhood you will meet

a man and fall in love. He will ring you out
of yourself. He will convince you that
you are not yours but his and at the apex
of your dependency where hands and hammers

become one in the same blunt instrument,
he will strike you again and again and again.
To seek your remains, I will pass my fingertips
over your picture. I will try to remember

the scent of your breath, your intangible life.

(“Reticence” and “From Bride to Buried” were originally published in A Little Poetry. Both poems are reprinted here today with permission from the poet.)

Lisa Zaran was born in 1969 in Los Angeles, California. She is an American poet, essayist and the author of six collections including The Blondes Lay Content and the sometimes girl, the latter of which was the focus of a year long translation course in Germany. Subsequently published to German in 2006 under the title: das manchmal mädchen. Selections from her other books have been translated to Bangla, Hindi, Arabic, Chinese, German, Dutch, Persian and Serbian. Her poems have appeared in hundreds of literary journals, magazines, broadsides, anthologies and e-zines including: Juked, Ramshackle Review, Apparatus Magazine, Hudson Review, Black Dirt, Other Voices, Kritya, The Dande Review, Soul to Soul, Nomad’s Choir Poetry Journal, Not a Muse Anthology, Best of the Web 2010, Literature: an intro to Reading and Writing by Pearson as well as being performed in Glasgow’s Radio Theater Group and displayed in SONS, a museum in Kruishoutem, Belgium. Lisa is founder and editor of Contemporary American Voices, an online collection of poetry by American poets. She is also the author of Dear Bob Dylan, a collection of letters to her muse. She lives and writes in Arizona.

Editor’s Note: Today’s poems give the reader food for thought. The first is, in my reading, a contemplation of the idea of outside forces, who or what is in control of our lives, and the responsibility we as humans have to do what we can with the opportunities and responsibilities laid in our laps. The second is a darker piece, almost cryptic, following the life of a woman from girlhood and the protection of her family home to adulthood and the abusive relationship that ends her life. Both poems are highly successful in their ability to make the reader think, perhaps outside the box of the reader’s normal thinking, and contemplate ideas and worlds that may or may not be their own.

Want to read more by and about Lisa Zaran?
Lisa Zaran Official Website
Contemporary American Voices


  1. Reticence. I love this. I started to pull the first few lines to say how much I love them when I started reading, but then each line hit home. Every moment is there to live, notice, and awaken if we want it. And even if we don’t. We get so caught up in our thoughts and, interestingly, lose the most important one: to choose to be fully present with every breath and absorb at all sensory levels what’s put before us. And then, as you note, to act based on the reality of the moment in accord with what’s placed before us. Consciously choosing each moments, which string our lives, in whatever direction we want to head. Based on reality, choosing to live as it ought to be, not what it should be. Thanks for this, dear Sivan . I’ll carry it today. Hopefully I’ll keep the pretend thoughts at bay and remember to remember in the days to come.


  2. Deborah – Your comments was as lovely as the poems. I find it interesting that of those people who have responded to these poems in one way or another, people prefer one or the other. I couldn’t decide, so I went with both! You have grasped the sentiment behind Reticence better than even I did, I believe. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. It makes me feel that my work here falls upon open ears. Thank you.


  3. “Every day the world falls into my lap…” What a statement, and the reaction to this idea is fascinating and feels very honest. Every moment or “gift” carries so much potential either way. Do you want to gamble on which way? Terrific dilemma and well said.
    The second piece was great too. I liked the angled view of ownership.


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