October 19–25, 2009: J.R. Simons and Lisa Zaran

week of October 19-25, 2009: 

J R Simons and Lisa Zaran

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J R Simons

Bio (auto)

J R Simons is a poet and playwright from Elyria, Ohio where he works as a substitute high school teacher, college theatre instructor, high school drama club assistant director, SAT/ACT preparation teacher and improvisational murder mystery producer/writer/director He is a recent graduate of the MFA program in poetry at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio His work has appeared in a number of local Ohio newsletters and poetry publications.

The following work is Copyright © 2009, and owned by J R Simons and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


went on a bender last night He started out with Elephant Ale and
when that was not enough
to dull his X-ray vision
and hide the truths that
only he could see,
he switched to Jack and Coke
in an effort to slow his reflexes, but
he still could fly and
he flew, flew
up and away
into a rage and
kissed Jose Cuervo
on the mouth
Then the barmaid brought him
a bottle of Absinthe
and that did the trick He felt that old familiar click,
got up from his stool,
stood on the bar –
red cape –
Blue tights –
wavy blue hair –
awry “Goddamn bird?” He asked –
“Goddamn plane?” He asked –
“I’m fucking SUPERMAN!” He shouted
as he crashed through the ceiling The Caped Crusader raced
through the night –
weaving in and out of airline traffic
exploding through the troposphere –
an ICBM streaking through the sky –
targeting his destination –
The Fortress of Solitude –
with laser precision There he curled himself up
in a little fetal ball
in the corner
and wept.

Findley State Park, 2008

We pitch our tent
between the gnarly
tree roots veining the ground
under patches of blue
through a leafy canopy
of tufted pine needles
like brown urchins
in an azure sea of sky
Our bath towels hang
like banners on a
makeshift clothesline
strung between the knotty-barked
trunks of tall pine trees
A band of locusts
chitters love songs.

The smell of a hundred
campfires meets the sunset,
shafts of sunlight
sifting through the smoke Night as dark and shiny black
as onyx with so many stars
the constellations are obscured
devours the sun A choir of crickets
chirps solemn hymns.

Meet me at the forest’s edge
where the white-tailed deer,
easily spooked, come down to feed
on tender shoots
Along the trail, morning mist A young buck, his two does, pause,
eyes moist, black,
an invitation
Sun shattering through cedars,
liquid light drowning trees and trail
in a saffron shower
of crystalline shards IV
I pass the family They cross behind
me, circle around, 
disappear into the wood
to find their beds of rhododendron
Three tails flick white.

Lisa Zaran

Bio (auto)

Lisa Zaran is an American poet, essayist and author of six collections including The Blondes Lay Content and the sometimes girl, the latter of which was recently the focus of a year long translation course in Germany She is the founder and editor of Contemporary American Voices, an online poetry journal, a ridiculously tasmanian Bob Dylan fan and the mother of two amazing children.

The following work is Copyright © 2009, and owned by Lisa Zaran and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

With Arms of Blue

To go along dying and singing
~Cesar Vallejo

To go along living and breathing
into a world that is dying, cloves
knocking into lungs, the bloody
raincoat of love, that poor shrub
of a spouse spilling always, a multitude
of whiny details.

Misery, complaints, traffic, the cost
of things, etcetera etcetera.

Forty years, you’d think I’d have learned
each groove in the rock I call my life
by now You’d think.

I run my hand along the banister of days
and come up with splinters I build a bed to die in and my daughter calls
on the telephone requesting to borrow
a mattress.

The audience I think I have is not real The lover I thought was mine is so far gone
by morning it would take a time machine
to find him.

All my dreams draw up beside me
wagging their tails As I reach to pat their heads, 
an hysteria of teeth and nails.

Wisdom for Myself
(to get through life)

Become everything.

Not just flesh and blood,
become the wheel and ooze
of each, the singe and its
beginning Do not bed down
with worry or spend any terrible
amount of time mouthing milk
or handing out candy.

The devil, naturally, will try to stop you.

God, Himself, may try to cripple
your knees Become everything All that is bewildering and all
that is hypnotizing to your heart.

Become your dream, even if your dream
is a navel growing backward
or a wavy desire you had as a child.

Be broad as daylight, linear as night Bloom cold Die warm and happy.


Love grows bold A little fugue A man hanging from the turnpike
bridge Saturated gold, an aluminum
coat on everything old And it’s time.

It’s time to put this whole dumb life
to use.

Like a foot without toes,
I walk with the knowledge of boots,
steel-toed and confident.

My mother would be proud My father might tap my shoulder one
two three times with the palm
of his weather-beaten hand.

Good job girl Good job.

I pick my graces carefully I take cold wind as an impetus
to carry on I thwart no passion,
gather little dust, learn from those
with something to teach.

I smoke myself Miles away,
a highway gets stoned.