Lisa Zaran

Issue 14


I found you and I lost you
My hand is lonely for your clasping
I do not forget the sounding of your voice
I do not forget your eyes
And I do lift my aching arms to you
And I do weep for very pain of you
I do, yet dare not say I ever meant
my care is like my shadow in the sun.

From me he took his sighs and tears
He bound me in an iron chain
In this life of probation, my legs refused
to walk away
Do you come to me to bend me to your will
to bear your children, wearing out my life
Love lies bleeding in the bed,
a transient cloudy spot.

To see love coming
The night has a thousand eyes
The mind has a thousand eyes
Love walked alone.

I knew it was love, and I felt it was glory.
And the oak tree and the cypress grow
not in each other’s shadow.
And the woman calling,
I long for you, I mourn for you.
You did not come.
I dare not ask a kiss.
I dare not beg a smile.
And into ashes all my lust.
What you ask and every killing,
every deed and word,
I know and knew it.
You loved me not.
You loved me not.
Take, oh take those lips away.

Method: I attempted to combine the art of sixteenth-century writers as well as some of the pioneers of the Romantic age into something that could be read and understood as modern-day. I carefully selected lines and pieces of lines throughout an anthology of poems titled Love Poems. Some of the lines are from Christopher Marlowe, others include Thomas Hardy, John Fletcher, Robert Burns, Henry Alford, F.W. Bourdillon and Christina Walsh.

Lisa Zaran is the author of eight collections of poetry including Dear Bob Dylan, The Blondes Lay Content, If It We and the sometimes girl. Lisa is founder and editor of Contemporary American Voices. When not writing, Lisa spends her days working for a Community Service Agency serving individuals with substance use and mental health disorders in Arizona.

Claire Frohman

Issue 14


at the beginning but

 earmarked lips moving restless
liminal windows

 sought dusk pulled tight danced circles
and loss

 She suffered momentarily every detail
so small

 washed over by the dark shade
of inevitability

 She the Harbour
parent tree

 drops seeds pushes deep into
the complexity

 We are urgent. Producing simple waves
The hero of his next story


Source: Evelyn Juers’ House of Exile: The Lives and Times of Heinrich Mann and Nelly Kroeger-Mann.

 Method & Some interesting Backstory: This book, chosen blithely from a library of thousands, held no apparent significance for me at the time. I was drawn to it, however, and opening to a page at random, I circled words that struck me. Though I began by using the words sequentially as they appeared, my word placement quickly became more deliberate as I followed the poem’s unfolding form. This “unfolding” is one of the things I love most about found poetry; from within the rich environment of a source text, it can feel, at times, as though the poem is finding you.

The mysterious “She,” who almost immediately took form struck a deep chord in me. “Who is this woman?” I wondered.

Years later, sifting through a beautiful old wooden chest of age-weathered letters, photographs, and other family history in my grandmother’s dining room, I came across a thin, wrought-metal icon of the Virgin Mary. I unwrapped it from its shroud of thin tissue paper, and with it, an origin story.

My Grandmother recounted the tale of our ancestor, Albert Hinrichs, who joined Napoleon’s invasion of Russia as a young man in 1812 and miraculously survived that winter’s infamous retreat, arriving home at death’s door with this icon clutched to his breast. Over the course of many months, he was nursed back to health by a young woman with whom he fell in love and soon married. His family, objecting to her lower social status, disapproved and asked him to end it. Forced to choose between love and his Swiss-German home, he chose love, and the young couple set out to build a new life in America. 

I am struck by certain parallels between the stories of Albert Hinrichs and Heinrich Mann. I have since learned that Mann was also from a well-to-do German family and, to their dismay, also married a girl from “the wrong side of the tracks.” Both young couples left Europe for the States, seeking freedom from social or political circumstances. And in both of these stories of young German men, there is a woman. “Who was she?” 

Framed by the male narrative, as our histories so often are, women seem frequently to appear as passive side characters. The enigmatic “She” of this poem serves to shift our collective perspective, perhaps sharing a glimpse of life through her lens, and refocusing on “Woman as Harbour” – the safe haven and source – from which all begins and ends.

Tragically, not long after her arrival in Los Angeles, Nelly Kroeger-Mann committed suicide. And sometime after their arrival in America, Albert and the nurse conceived. The nurse carried a life in her womb, and generations were born. Wave after wave of life and death – and all the simple moments in between – have rippled their way through time to me. 

“Who is she?”

She is me and I am her. My point of origin. 

Claire Frohman is a free spirit, world traveler, and food activist living in Bloomington, IN. She currently helps manage her mother’s catering company and works part-time at an immigration law office. Claire received her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Italian from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. 


Rebecca Donovan

Issue 14


See how elastic our stiff prejudices grow when love comes to bend them.
I was the condensed confidential comfortableness of sharing a blanket with an old friend.
With our shaggy jackets drawn about our shoulders, I grew illuminated
by the flame of the new-lit lamp.
I had become more familiar with his broken phraseology.
It is not drawn in any map —
true places never are.

Source : Moby Dick, Herman Melville.

Method: I glean language from existing text, diving into books and pulling from random pages, sifting what I discover find into poems. My tools are a black Sharpie and a X-Acto knife.

Rebecca Donovan is an educator and former non-profit director. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her teen daughter, She writes when she can and takes long walks as often as possible.

Sophie Newman

Issue 14


He will seem to be hovering motionless in the air.
Where then, is our frame of reference?
Men of science believe in a luminiferous ether.
The ether itself remains motionless as the light
like the wind through a grove of trees.

If there be any relative motion
between the earth and the luminiferous space,
it must be quite small.
Suppose we fasten a balloon by a string.
Suppose the time needed by light to traverse space.
For the speed of light always remains the same.

Interesting things happen to such objects.
The dot-man is taking a walk.
Since he would be familiar only with a two-dimensional world,
the ball would resemble a pancake.
The answer to all three questions is “yes.”

For one thing, the speed of light is the ultimate speed.
Also, we must remember that at speeds approaching that of light, time is
slowed up.
The observer inside the box would discover that he is in a gravitational forecefield
Just what happened to the dot-man,
who had returned to the place from which he started out?

Source: The Book of Popular Science, Volume 4

Method: I am fascinated by old science texts and found this one on the shelves of a friend’s house. I was drawn to the section on the theories of relativity partially because I realized I lacked this foundational scientific knowledge. While reading, I was struck by the weight of some of the language that, while technical, traverses the realms of the mysterious and cosmic. I highlighted phrases I found surprisingly lyrical, then cut, re-ordered, and clarified where necessary.

Sophie Newman is an incoming MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at The Ohio State University. Born in Berkeley and raised on the Central California Coast, she moved to Houston to earn her B.A. in English from Rice University, where she was the recipient of the Inprint Marion Barthelme Prize in Creative Writing.

Ariane Lewis

Issue 14


Most experiences are
they happen in a space
that no word
has ever entered;

Go into yourself.

in the deepest and most
important matters,
we are unspeakably

And the point is,
to live everything.
To walk inside yourself
and meet no one
for hours – we must

trust in what is difficult;

Perhaps everything
that frightens us
is something helpless
that wants our love.

life has not forgotten you

let us wait for what wants to come.

Source: Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

Method: Every word was found in Letters to a Young Poet. They remain unchanged and in the same chronological order as they appeared in the letters Rainer Maria Rilke wrote to Franz Xaver Kappus. The lines reached out to me as a comprehensive whole, so I simply allowed Rilke to inspire me in order to put the pieces together.

Ariane Lewis lives in Connecticut where she works as a puzzle editor and technical writer. Her poetry has appeared in both Foothill: a journal of poetry and Rufous Salon Journal.


The Best I Can Say by Mary Ardery

Issue 13


It is Saturday morning.
They planted grass seed yesterday.
All good here,
beyond me.
Mom loved reading
the magazines.
We mark time with rituals and pictures—
a mother and father,
three little girls—
the real world
is not a straight line progression.
I’m struggling,
but I wake up every morning
and remember
that we are
much more than fine.
You’ve been like that forever—
even in those moments when doubt threatens your faith.
The chaos,
the demons,
are waxing and waning.
The best I can say is
see you soon.

Source: Letters from my dad 2015-2018

Method: Thinking ahead to Father’s Day, I pulled out excerpts from handwritten letters from my dad over the past few years. I rearranged them to create a letter addressed to him, constructed by his own words addressed to me. Each line break represents a change in which letter I pulled the phrase from. The punctuation (and much of the capitalization) is my own.

Mary is from Bloomington, IN. You can find more of her work on Parks & Points, Sweet Tree Review, and right here on Unlost Journal. She is currently pursuing an MFA at Southern Illinois University.

Hesitant Afterlife Shat a Little Sunshine by Aditya Shankar

Issue 13

the scattered Buddha
hung a billion limbs
that flared time
and straitened language.

Under the tree,
Bodhisattva is the invisible forehead
of an underground sky

which rises through the
fast lane of a xylem,
nests with God
to curl as water in the clouds.

The squirrels watch –

Look, gallons of steam
distills in the tender membranes
of sharp worms and hunger,

leaving us with humanure,
and heart sutra.

That living is a rebound experiment
for the burning roots.

That being is the cluttered innards
of a violent ritual.

When you tap inside
the tender detours of animals,
sacrifice is rain.

When you climb
the ladder of a day,
density is blood.

Source: Hidden Light, Wooden Ladder, Bucket of Clay, Pillar of Water by Marco Wilkinson

Method: I randomly marked the list of words as I read down the source text and married them in the order in which they chose their own meaning. 

Aditya Shankar is an Indian poet, flash fiction author, and translator. His poems, fiction, and translations have appeared or is forthcoming in the Unbroken Journal, Modern Literature, The Queen Mob’s Teahouse, The Ghost Parachute, Canada Quarterly, Indian Literature, MoonPark Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, and elsewhere. Books: After Seeing (2006), Party Poopers (2014). His anthology of poems, XXL is forthcoming (Dhauli Books, 2018). He lives in Bangalore, India.  You can reach him @suncave.


How to Be Safe by Melissa D. Sullivan

Issue 13

Try not to
wear scarves or
long jewelry
that could be used to
strangle you. If you’re in
a home
with stairs,
try to stay on the first floor. If
violence is unavoidable,
make yourself
a small target. Dive
into a corner
and curl up into a ball
with your face
and arms around
each side of your head.
Don’t run
to where the children are,
as your partner
may hurt
as well.


Method:  In researching how to help in a friend facing a bad situation, I found this website of practical, yet horrifying advice meant to assist victims of domestic violence.  As I read the suggestions, I was struck with how violence was presented as all but inevitable. In creating the poem, I tried to focus on the instructions that made me the smallness I felt when reading that website.  

Melissa D. Sullivan is a writer, attorney and recipient of the 2016 Parent-Writer Fellowship in Fiction from the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing.  Her most recent short story appeared in the Adelaide Literary Magazine. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with her family.


Mortality by Mark McKain

Issue 13

A diver squats in a tea cup, a poorly understood benthic mass,
largest Antarctic sponge, slow to grow,

quick to die, extreme longevity,
gang-planked in
experimental gardens,

Diving into zero-degree water, she measures urn-shapes with lasers.
In field notes: A vase

molded by a third grader
or a Japanese ceramics master,
sculpting raw silica beauty.

Lighter than smaller species, its central cavity, a negative capability,
where other life forms, three worms,

husbanded in sym-
biotic policies of
shared data and material.

A hundred sponges collected, a scientific booty/baseline for extinction?
Fallen off the plank, Father’s biomass un-

balanced, tipped off, sunk,
spicules found on bottom.
Cover him with kisses, sponges.

Source: Dayton et al. Recruitment, Growth and Mortality of an Antarctic Hexactinellid Sponge, Anoxycalyx joubini. Plos One. February 2013. Volume 8 Issue 2.

Method: I like to travel to inspire writing and when I return home, I read about where I’ve been.  Through readings in history, geology, archeology, and biology, I am often struck by a passage that resonates emotionally, giving me a visceral sensation that is inexplicable or outside what the text is talking about.  I will copy this passage in my journal and add other material—early memories, recent experiences from my travels, and the death of a loved one.
I organize this material using syllabic lines. Then let the composition go elsewhere answering a different or unexpected question to complete the composition.   

Mark McKain’s work has appeared in The New Republic, Agni, The Journal, Subtropics, Blue Mesa Review, Superstition Review, and elsewhere. His poetry chapbook Blue Sun was published by Aldrich Press in 2015. He teaches creative writing in Orlando, Florida.  

Sonnetizing the Singularity by Richard Holeton

Issue 13


Think artistic aptitude resembling
The development of new exhibits
And a human counterpart assembling
Its masses and thereby increasing its
Nucleic acids: a structure throughout.
Of this which the author argues his case
Arming this project (Ray Kurzweil) about
Poems and storing that protein embrace.
That the brain receives input from the arts
(The computer is not a Picasso
Since we already have maximum hearts)
This suggests no robotic Tomasso
Can overcome a stuck arithmetic
Or model many patterns syncretic.


Second generation simulated
Patterns underlying biology,
And sufficiently high, unabated,
To continue training (tautology) —
A human level of concentration.
The universe to become, that forebears
Expected before the inflammation
Of the atmosphere, will provide base pairs
Faster. Evidence civilization
Achieves the infinite, but because least,
Remains critical approximation
To technology, or measurement feast.
If neural scanning is most effective,
Your result — exponential perspective.


We undertake immune responses more
Than the relatively slow, extensive
Procedure to eventually restore,
Create individualized defensive
Government regulation improvements.
Whether or not it is existential
To ask this question (with global movements’
Dramatic culmination, sequential),
Are the nervous system genes accurate
A mere twenty years? If expectations
Are you’re suggesting that’s inaccurate,
The represented mechanizations
In regard to the limits we discussed
Are evolutionary cosmic dust.

Source: Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near.

Method: To expand slightly on the method for “Sonnetizing the Singularity,” I used an open-source Python program by Ross Goodwin called “Sonnetizer,” which generates Shakespearean sonnets from a text corpus that you input. I input the entire text of Ray Kurzweil’s book “The Singularity is Near” (Viking, 2005), which is available online, and let the program generate dozens and dozens of sonnets. I then selected what I felt were the most promising ones, mixed and matched a few lines here and there from different sonnets, and did some minimal editing for sense and syntax (e.g., subject-verb agreement). In a few cases I substituted different words for what the computer program generated, but words always still from the Kurzweil text corpus.

Richard Holeton is author of the critically-recognized hypertext novel _Figurski at Findhorn on Acid_, other electronic literature, and fiction or hybrid work in many journals including the Indiana Review, Mississippi Review, ZYZZYVA, Black Ice, and Vassar Review. His awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, MacDowell Colony, Brown Foundation, and California Arts Council. Formerly a teacher and administrator at Stanford University, he lives and writes on the coast near Half Moon Bay, California.

Exploring the Universe by Howie Good

Issue 13

Do I believe the Earth
is shaped like a Frisbee?
I believe it is.
Do I know for sure?

I’m not a robot.
I’m just a guy looking around.
It’ll kill you.
It’ll scald you to death.
It’ll blow the skin
and muscle off your bones.
I’ll feel it in the morning.

At least I can go home
and have dinner
and see my cats tonight.

Source:, One Giant Leap for a Man One Small Step Toward Proving the Earth is a Frisbee, March 26th, 2018

Howie Good is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize from Thoughtcrime Press, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry. 

Cause of Death by Brenda Birenbaum

Issue 13

I just moved into a house
and they are all dying
every day for a few minutes
from the inside out
you wonder how this disease
in its virulent form
suddenly appears

we continue to see
wildfires along the roads
beginning in autumn
near motorways
anywhere you live

the roads in winter
when there’s snow or heavy frost
huge swaths turning brown
starting at the bottom
spreading to the top

death along with disappearance
the biggest I have seen
as the drought continues
a growing wasteland
this vernal time of year

we live in the country
summer progresses
along the roadways
it is a slow death
from the top down
We refer to this situation as decline
for want of an exact cause of death

Source & Method: DuckDuckGo search engine results for the term “dying pines”, using odds and ends from the blurbs in the results page. Not always in order and some slightly revised.

Brenda Birenbaum writes things. Her work has appeared in Low Light Magazine, The Vignette Review, Random Sample Review and elsewhere. Find her @brbirenbaum.

O Poetry by Ronnie Sirmans

Issue 13

There is always hope
always tomorrow
the way a great poem can move you.
You’ll detect a woodsy bouquet
of jasmine, rose, and oak
as delicate as can be
without ink soaking through.

Source: O, The Oprah Magazine, April 2011 issue

Method: For National Poetry Month 2011, Oprah’s magazine featured poems and poets, with help from guest editor Maria Shriver. Seeking to find inspiration from the special issue, I created a poem in which each line came from pieces that weren’t poems.

Ronnie Sirmans is a metro Atlanta newspaper journalist whose poetry has appeared in The South Carolina Review, Tar River Poetry, Deep South Magazine, The American Journal of Poetry, The Museum of Americana, Britain-based Blackbox Manifold, and elsewhere.

Lost Child by Emily McAvan

Issue 13

To write,
you have to do,
and then suddenly undo,

You have to live,
fragments of yourself
exploded to splinters,
you have to want
something to survive.

I was so afraid that I thought
in the disquiet of my mind,
the fear and disgust,
that one writes to inflict pain.

But where is it written that you have to be unhappy?


Source: Story of a Lost Child by Elena Ferrante

Method: I wrote this poem with the aid of a Markov text generator, which feeds in prose as an input and generates an output randomly. I grabbed the best bits of random prose, repeating the process until I got something I liked, and then edited for sense from there. I worked using material from the pseudonymous Italian writer Elena Ferrante, whose Neapolitan novels are some of the best literature of the last decade.

Emily McAvan is a Jewish Australian poet whose work sits at the intersection between sacred and profane.

21st Century Old Money by Thomas Fahey

Issue 13

Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water…Then there were bloody towels upon the bathroom floor, and women’s voices scolding, and high over the confusion a long broken wail of pain

I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet, I don’t even wait.  And when you’re a star…you can do anything. Grab ‘em by the pussy. You can do anything

Civilization’s going to pieces. I’ve grown to be a terrible pessimist about things.  The is if we don’t look out the white race will be-will be utterly submerged … we’ve produce all the things that go to make civilization-oh science and art and all that

They’re bringing drugs.  They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people…I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for the wall.  Mark my words

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my head ever since “ Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone” he told me ‘ just remember that all the people in the world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had”

Donald J Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on….so we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly back into the past

Source: F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and actual speeches by President Donald Trump.

Method: I took passages from the easily quotable novel, and tied them in the following passage to some of the monstrous things (about sexual assault and overt racism) actually said by the president.  The last passage combines his fascistic call for an end to Muslim immigration with Gatsby’s most famous line, trying to evoke a sense of futility but a need for resistance.

Thomas Fahey is a 31 year old graduate student living alone in Columbia, South Carolina.  He is intensely bored by his day to day life, but creative writing is providing an emerging escape from the mundane.  He is influenced by authors ranging from Hunter Thompson and Jack Kerouac to Rimbaud and Artaud. He is originally from New York City but has lived all across the United States, and is fascinated by the absurdity of modern American society.  He is genuinely frightened by the idea of settling down with a wife to raise two kids in SUV’s behind white picket fences, and in general hopes for his life to take a more interesting path.

[Living Somewhere] by David Rock

Issue 12

living somewhere
super close to
greener pastures
sedation with wisdom
strange but true
common sense
in search of
a place called

Source: The Scroll (the student-run newspaper of Brigham Young University-Idaho).

Method: I teach Spanish literature, and in order to show how poets don’t necessarily have the subject of a poem in mind before they sit down to start writing, I assigned the students to take a single issue of the student newspaper, cut out words and phrases from headlines and advertisements, and then play around with these fragments until something interesting revealed itself.  The above poem is one of several that I produced for demonstration purposes.

David Rock teaches Spanish at Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg.  His poems have appeared recently in Carolina Quarterly, Palooka, and American Journal of Poetry.  Sometimes he arrives in exotic places and forgets how he got there.  Sometimes he gets in his car and just sits there, pretending to be furious.


Justice by Howard Richard Debs

Issue 12

how is it to be told? . . . in detailing the facts themselves?
—Charles Reznikoff, Reznikoff Papers Box VII, Folder 26

What to do with the body
of a Nazi war criminal
no one wants
where to bury him, since Rome,
his adopted homeland of Argentina,
and his hometown in Germany won’t take him?

He died Friday at age 100
in the Rome home of his lawyer,
where he had been serving
his life term under house arrest.

Priebke spent nearly 50 years as a fugitive
before being extradited to Italy
from Argentina in 1995 to stand trial.

          Erich Priebke got up from his seat
          to break the silence he observed
          since the trial’s start to say
          he would not testify before the court.

Rome Mayor:
the city accepts neither a
church funeral nor a burial for him.

          The 335 victims of the massacre
          were machine-gunned at the
          Ardeatine Caves near Rome,
          which were then dynamited
          in an attempt to hide the bodies.

Chief rabbi of Rome’s Jewish community:
cremate while dead,
unlike the millions of children who
went into the ovens and for whom
Priebke never had pity.

          Priebke claims
          he was forced to participate or face death.
          It is likely that Priebke will be one of
          the last significant Nazi war-criminals to face trial.

Priebke’s lawyer:
as a practicing Catholic,
Priebke deserves a
Catholic funeral and burial.

But not even Priebke’s
adopted homeland of Argentina,
where he lived in the mountain
resort of Bariloche, will take him.

Priebke was born in Hennigsdorf,
a small town north of Berlin,
local rules give only
residents a right to burial
in its cemetery, exceptions
are possible in cases where
people have family graves there,
but the Priebke family
doesn’t have any.

In his final interview released upon his death,
he denied the Nazis gassed Jews
during the Holocaust.

Sources: Palm Beach Post article October 14, 2013 “Church, state refuse funeral for former Nazi” ; AP Archive Story No. 28506 06/03/1996 “Former Nazi Officer Erich Priebke Trial”

Method: I have files stuffed with all manner of clippings, notices, advertisements sitting waiting. The local newspaper article about the Nazi Priebke demanded a response. The free-form excerpting and lineation was straightforward enough but there needed to be something else. I am a devotee of the objectivists, and particularly Charles Reznikoff; his work Holocaust, all 94 pages of it, being a tour-de-force of found poetry. Holocaust uses actual testimony (Reznikoff had a law degree) extracted from 26 volumes of transcriptions from the court proceedings of the Eichmann and Nuremberg trials. I followed his example and researched for detail about the Priebke trial itself and discovered the AP archive story. Juxtaposing elements of the two creates a full picture representing the inhumanity of humanity through the words and deeds of but one human being.

Howard Richard Debs is a finalist and recipient of the 28th Annual 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards. His essays, fiction, and poetry appear internationally in numerous publications; his new full length work Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words, (Scarlet Leaf Publishing) is a 2017 Best Book Awards winner as Finalist in poetry. He is listed in the Directory of American Poets & Writers