Volume 2 Number 1 • Spring 2010

Zan Bockes

The Heart Burglar
The Lyrics to the Word Song

The Heart Burglar

My heart was removed by a surgeon I used to love. He claimed it caused more trouble than it was worth. I know now that we will never turn in tandem, too wrenched by the twisting of twilight and the haunting of the moon. How did it happen that he would perform this surgery at night, while I lay sleeping? “Incubus!” I shout when I discover my aorta is gone. He only smiles and wags his bloody finger under my nose. He displays the organ in a jelly jar for his friends. The friends shuffle by in a line, pointing and laughing. Then he hands the jar to me—the object inside is shriveled and black, like a bloated prune, too small to be of use. I say he's guilty of breaking and entering. I say he's stolen my heart. He says, “I gave it back. You have no case against me.” How generous, to return a broken heart.


“To be sane means to pay attention to the right things,” I say to the cat in my lap. Her world is rough tongue licking soft fur, the special treat of tuna in her dish. I quote myself again, but the voices in my head are too loud—they clamor for attention when I'm trying to hear my cat's purr, or when I only wish to study the quiet with an inquisitive ear. “You can't fool us! You are insane!” they cry. “Pay attention! We speak truth!” Their babbling surmounts the surface of my awareness. I shout again of sanity and righteousness, but sense fades to senselessness, words to an unceasing din. The cat in my lap stirs, her purr thundering above the cacophony, her soft throat vibrating. Does she have such worries? Why does the leaf falling beyond the window command her senses to the neglect of a dancing toy or the offer of a petting hand? And what is a “right” thing, after all? The descent of a leaf, or the dread of the impending Fall?

The Lyrics to the Word Song

“Words are a trap to catch a fleeting reality.”

Jean Paul Sartre

In the beginning was the word “word.” Somehow that got tangled up in the startling garden of vegetation—fruits bleed seeds; even weeds need seeds—but all our effort was sucked away. We could not taste even the slightest hint of sugar or blood, but by nightfall in a roaring forest we discovered we were damned. The tornadic swirl of fragmented half-thought, the imploding black hole of fear and rage, has dumped on us all a complete negation of who we affirm to be, love to be, strive to be without question. I've tried to get out of what I got into without harming anyone. I'm alone in a room with many windows and no doors—like being frozen into an ice cube—my dreams drift down the glass. Once upon a time I boarded a train bound for L.A. and sat the whole trip in the lounge, drinking scotch as I watched a desert pass under the moon. I was nervous about monkeys. I was afraid they'd steal the clink from my glass. And another day in another town, just before dawn with hope rising fast in my chest, I awoke to the music of birds. I looked out my window to see a message scrawled across the sky: “Worry not with words, and you shall worry not.”

Zan Bockes is a direct descendant of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and revelry. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. Her fiction, nonfiction and poetry have appeared in many magazines, including Poetry Motel, Visions International, The Comstock Review, Cutbank and Phantasmagoria, and she has had three nominations for a Pushcart Prize.

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