no help for the helpless

Writing Prompt: Help

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


Giant black garbage bags sat to the left and right of her. They were sentries protecting her from the nothingness she fell further into each day. Tan holed socks over crusted unwashed feet kept out some of the chill. She untied the bag to her left. She rummaged inside looking for another sock, but nothing changed since yesterday. She knew this deep down, but like a child on Christmas Day she hoped that she possessed Santa’s special red velvet gift bag that produced whatever one asked for from thin air. There were never any new socks to be found and Zoe certainly didn’t have Santa’s bag. All she had inside were the vestiges of a life once lived. To lose or have anything stolen from her bags would doom her to permanent homelessness and a past that would be erased as though it never existed. So she kept them close and tied her knots tight so no one could see what was left of her life after the fire.

Zoe needed help and asked for it many times. But the system kept her in an endless loop of wants and needs that could never be fulfilled. She pleaded for help, often pleading with only the air and wind, and sometimes a God who seemed to have forgotten he’d made her. She was an only child and her parents who had died were only children. All her grandparents were dead. She was alone, forced to face monthly periods and a growling stomach on the streets of Manhattan, or as a mole underground where light and air were only for those with money. Most times, it was food or maxi pads. Food always won because blood could not be eaten nor bartered for socks. Instead it stained her life each full moon and reminded her that help would never come; but the full moon would never end.

There was no help for her. Only endless days of coins hitting tin cups, an empty knotted stomach each week and crimson blood on the sad full moon.

upon the shelf

Writing Prompt: Shelf

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


Little eight year old girls make soccer balls in Pakistan; fingers roughened by sturdy leather, needles and thick thread. Bottoms hover just above dirt paved streets as they squat to work under the noon’s blazing sun hanging from a low sky. Bodies covered head to toe to respect the social order. No one cares that she is hot and only eight. Grown men still have hungry eyes, the soccer balls must be done in time for worldwide entertainment, and $3 per day is needed to buy a morsel to eat. Some days, it might only be $1. It’s better than nothing. Better than starvation and maybe death.

I place my heart on a shelf to relieve the pain of what I see. I won’t let it beat inside my chest because it might destroy me. Or I may tear it out and thrust it like a cannon ball upon those responsible for innocence lost.

Instead, I leave it there, upon the shelf, gathering dust and tears. The tears were meant for me. But the dust belongs to the shelf and the shadows.

My heart waits for me there, on the highest shelf, out of reach. I leave it there, so the pain cannot reach me where I need to hide.

© zaji, 2016

inventing a culture

This is another piece I was working on that I think could become something. It’s unedited. I think it might make a good short story.


“What are you in for?”
        “You don’t wanna know,” answered Larry to the strange man in the cell across from him.
        Larry’s head was bent low. He looked dejected and filled with a heaviness that was familiar to all his cellmates. They all knew the look. They too had gone through the sad realization that it was not every invention that would be met with the sound of roaring applause from their peers. They’d screwed up and they were doing time for their infraction.
        “Come on man, tell us!” cried another cellmate two cells over. His mirror was dusty and dark. Larry wondered how he could see down the hall with it. His hands were equally as dusty and dingy, dried out like a prune rolled in dirt.
        “What’s you’re name, guy?” asked Larry.
        “Francois Ignatious.”
        “You’re the Ignatious, who invented the biodegradable car?”
        “I would be him.”
        “It is such an honor to meet you. You are lauded as one of the greats in the culture. It was so sad to learn of your demise. How could you know that your tires would not degrade? It was a minor error on your part, not deserving of this hell hole.”
        “Thank you good man. And what is your name?”
        “Larry. Larry Livingstone.”
        “Mr. Livingstone, pleased to make your acquaintance. Not to worry. I only have six months left on my time. I’ll be out and about in no time. I will hence be more discerning in how I unfold my theories to ensure I do not blunder in such a way again.”
        “It was a mere slip dear sir,” Larry responded.
        “Yes, but a slip that cost me two years in prison. Why are you here?”
        “I invented an item that assists the populace with cleaning their teeth. I call it, a teeth-scrubber.”
        “What happened?”
        “Well, the first few on the market degraded as they should have. But there was some slight mistake with the chemical structure and a few would not degrade. What made it worse, was that it was happening primarily with the children’s teeth-scrubbers. So I’m sure you can imagine the outrage that came from the parents.”
        “Oh my,” said Francois.
        “Yes. It escalated to a flood of letters to my institution. Children were said to wake up screaming in terror because the items would not degrade. They would see the items, now invincible against nature, chasing them endlessly. It was a nightmare for everyone involved. But the children. I didn’t mean the children any harm. They are so innocent. To think they were forced to imagine a world where things did not degrade and would live on forever upon the earth to haunt them for all eternity.”
        Larry began to cry. A few of the men shed tears with him, remembering their own misadventures. There was a hush that came over them. Larry looked at his teeth-scrubber in near disgust.

soul flow

Writing Prompt: Flow

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


My soul flows from here.
Along rippling riverbeds smoothing stones.
Across silt, soil and pebbles.

Baptismal waters cleanse me.
The sun dries my shadows.
Soul is wanting cloudless skies.

I am remnants of Earth.
Flowing into my past.

© zaji, 2016

the unrequited


i return to you dressed in red painted toenails
carrying my heart in my right hand

my pen in my left

you admire my purple lipstick
“eccentric” you say

“royal” i say
“but i am not your queen”

he look away to search the concrete for words

i look to the sun

he say “your toes. red polish. you hate red”

“i write in red for you. i paint in red for you” i say
“see my pen here?”

“i see. but your other hand full” he say
“what’s in it?”

“can’t you see?”

but he can’t see what’s there—my heart
all he sees is my fist balled tight

“i see green nail polish on your thumb” he say
“and grass seeking sun is growing up through the cracked concrete”

© zaji, 2016

the history of colors

I grew black wings today. I spread them wide and flew beyond Mars. I pushed my wings to flap through thick dark space around Jupiter and beyond. I then stopped to dance on the rings of Saturn. Before I knew it, Pluto became a tiny dot behind me, disappearing as I flew toward a cluster of lights. Up ahead was another galaxy filled with colors that did not exist on Earth, colors that did not need light to be seen, colors without names. The colors were filled with grandeur and life; I knew instinctively that naming them would doom them to my limited idea of them, it would take them far from their meaning and mutability. So I let them exist, nameless and free, allowed to be whatever they wanted to be. The many colors grew their own wings and could fly.


As I flew away from the colors, I could sense them communicating with me. They told me telepathically that colors were sentient, could feel and reproduce–yes, they gave birth to new colors. They said there were several planets where colors lived and breathed and had infant colors born black; they ran around spreading joy to everyone and everything. The infant colors grew into colors with their own unique DNA, variations of the colors on Earth, along with colors never experienced on Earth. Every once in a while, a group of adolescent colors explored other worlds to give species the experience of them. Some species could see them, others could not. Their ability to see colors depended on the bodies they incarnated in and whether the body was equipped to see the colors, and/or the spiritual level attained by the species. The colors, regardless, spoke of their experiences in different realms and what their presence did for each species. They gave themselves to others through love and a desire to explore the essence of other beings. These beings in turn, without knowing, gave something to the colors. What the colors received, they used to create new colors.

I listened and allowed them to share their history with me. I’d never heard anything like it and never imagined there could be planets where colors, as sentient beings, existed. But there I was, leaving their world and receiving the gift of their words as I flew away, far off into their galaxy and into new unimaginable adventures.

© zaji, 2016

a little while


Stay with me for a little while
A small, tiny, infintisimal while
We don’t need words
only loud and invading silence
We will dance to it
swinging our souls to its vibrations
It is enough
It must be enough

And when the music of silence ends
We will vibrate through touch
Leaving the world behind
Leaving them searching for our trail
across the night sky

© zaji, 2016

sand and ash


I carry my pain on the tips of my fingers where touch finds me hiding.
The world is not grand.
It is a scared child lost in an inescapable cosmic force.
We spin with our lost galaxy that is turning for something larger than self.
I am afraid of tomorrow.
It haunts me in the small spaces
In the nooks and crannies made by lives not concerned with human space.
The ghosts of my future wait for me
Under the already burning things I won’t see until tomorrow.
Under a future destroyed before I’ve arrived.
I am afraid of a hundred tomorrows.
Because the world is not grand.
And all tomorrows are sand and ash.

© zaji, 2016

in between spaces

i am between the rugged spaces of non-time
the spaces breathe in false yesterdays and invisible tomorrows
then exhale the unpredictable now, the moment, the all-there-is

we are served strange life each sunrise and sunset
we drink and eat the now, filling our bellies with notions of eternity
belief confines creation

time casts us into darkness, blind

we are visitors here
for a spell
for an insignificant spell

the spaces try to fill me
but i am never filled
i flow into nothingness
but never filled

i breathe for the spaces
into invisible tomorrows and false yesterdays
i breathe

© zaji, 2016


colored girl's comb

Just wrote this piece. I love experimenting with prose/poetry ideas. I was thinking about how I comb my hair and whether the experience has meaning. I believe with a few edits I could mold this into something interesting.


Coils, curls, swirls and twists wrap around my colored girl’s comb.
Unraveling spirals move through years of teeth.
Combs carry stories of untamed hair.
I am not without remembering.
My comb whispers secrets to my locs
that my soul doesn’t want to know.
Tresses fold tight, frozen by time.
Maybe by fear.
My colored girl’s comb,
it molds to my colored girl hair.
I mold to my colored girl comb.

© zaji, 2016

love (an experiment)


I am shaped by fierce white clouds against ancient blue skies
Nova bound stars hang from the ends of my long black warrior locs
Bright shooting rays yellow the engorged land
My heart is my sword
I am wanting to cut into the soul of humankind
Bleed them into beauty
I am wanting love atop meteors
Burning up the night before sinking into soil and sea
The bright white and red tail left behind are my tears
They dissipate behind the rock carrying love
It carries love and my hopes
It carries me back to here

© zaji, 2016

the highway


The dusty black tar receding behind Panga ran into the forlorn past. Far from the groping and needy future, the road ahead beckoned her to follow.  She was worn from the sleepless drive. Morning became her night and the sun her night light. But a place to bed was more of a challenge than she’d expected. She wanted nothing more than to sleep until death claimed her. Death instead claimed her two year old daughter, husband of five years and her mother who suckled her into womanhood through breast and bravery. Panga knew that if she traveled the roads at night she would see them in the mint green car, driving back to meet her. They would rewind time, return from the great beyond and find Panga roaming the highways; no hopes necessary, only life wrapped in second chances, straightened metal, unbroken glass and bodies laughing in the noonday sun.

© zaji, 2016

on dead leaves


i sleep atop living and dead leaves
shadowed by sensual trees whose leaves
play upon my sun bathed skin

untold stories whisper through fallen leaves
they descend onto my engorged breasts
infant food from the mother goddess

dead leaves shift and crunch beneath my dreams
my naked body moves in REM
remembering notes and rhythms

the shadows tell secrets of hiding places
far from the world of yesterdays
from from the sun of now

© zaji, 2016

memories in yellow

“I am not asking you to remember who you are. I am asking you to put everything aside and discover what has never really been forgotten. See what has always been present.”
— Gangaji 


The space of memory is littered with yellow roses scattered atop red paint. Yellow suns warm distant solar systems teaming with life under yellow clouds. White clouds do not live there, only inside this great green and blue ball that spins suspended in mid-air, no strings attached; none that we can see or touch at least. Suspended animation carrying things animated but not suspended in Earth air. I don’t remember who I am anymore. My first mind has been rinsed with yellow water that tastes like lemons. My mind is sour with remorse for the loss. Who I am is gone, floating off into space, in suspended animation, no longer animating me to remember what I should have never forgotten.

© zaji, 2016


I am torn between sunrises and snow flakes, between Timbuktu and Saturn. I am wedged between the grass blades between my toes and the forgotten places in realms beyond this flesh and bones. I am the blood pumping through my veins, alive and wanting Earth, then, in an instant, I am the selfless need to be your ghost watching over you as you feel the sun on your wanting skin. I am torn.


© zaji, 2016