Author Feature - October 2021

Zaneta Varnado Johns (aka Zan) believes that every word shared is an opportunity to love. This former human resource leader spent twenty-nine rewarding years at the University of Colorado where she was recognized as one of the 2007 Women Who Make a Difference. During the stillness of 2020, she stepped out of retirement into her passion, and became a 2-time bestselling author. Her debut book of poetry, Poetic Forecast: Reflections on Life's Promises, Storms, and Triumphs (2020) became a Hot New Release on Amazon and topped Amazon's Bestseller List at #1 in six categories and reached #3 in another. Johns is a contributing author in the #1 International Bestseller Voices of the 21st Century: Resilient Women Who Rise and Make a Difference (WSA Publishing, February 2021). 


Zan is also a contributing author in Jane Austen, an anthology of thoughts & opinions (PurpleStone Press, June 2021). Her poems have been included in the Fine Lines Literary Journal and in Voices of the 21st Century: Resilient Women Who Rise and Make a Difference.


Zan’s work on her second book of poetry and other literary projects is underway. This engaging poet resides in Westminster, Colorado.



Zan Open Door picture.jpeg





I am the whole spectrum—

a refined vessel of light—

a colorful reflection of everything good.

I am utterly pleased

with who I am.

My skin is a combination

of my daddy’s Louisiana chocolate

and my mother’s Mississippi red.

Call me Caramel Frappuccino,

no whip.

My hips are

fittingly curved

like a country road 

winding along the river.

My breasts—though not


suitable foothills. 

I’m good with that!

My butt is not 

apple-bottom round

but what does that matter.

It is not about my body!

It’s about my essence.

Respect what’s inside my head—


bursting with kind thoughts

and full of dreams.

Faithfully loyal,

I am a rich gumbo 

of love and poetry,

a rue with the perfect hue—

ready to be served . . . hot.

I’m ready to touch the world!



If your eyes met my eyes in the midst of a crisis,

Would their shape and color concern you?

If you felt my hands as they massaged your aching body,

Would you care about the pigmentation of my skin?

If I gave blood to replenish your low supply

Would you need to know that I looked like you?

If you were drowning and I dove in to assist you,

Would you reach toward me if you knew I was gay?

If you were hearing for the first time in your life,

Would you need for my voice to speak English only?

If your loved one lay sick and dying,

Would it matter to which god I prayed?

If I donated money to support your favorite cause,

Would you refuse it if you knew how I voted?

If the size of my heart increased each time I helped somebody,

Would you be more interested in the size of my body?

If you asked me to walk a mile in support of humanity,

Would you get impatient if I used my wheelchair?

If I said "no" and you assaulted me anyway,

Are you less guilty because I waited to report?

If my family seeks asylum in the USA,

Are we not welcome because our border is to your south?

If the police force keeps killing unarmed citizens,

Would you demand justice if they are African American?

With civil unrest during this global pandemic,

Trust me, we will soon realize what matters!



Mirror Mirror, speak to me

What exactly do you see

Am I enough

Need I change

Should anything be rearranged

I will make a difference

in the world

as I encourage other girls

Will there be others 

who encourage me

to be the best that I can be

Are there hurdles on my path

When I meet trouble

will it last

Worthy feats are what I crave

I need role models 

who are brave

Send me wisdom

Send me grace

Empower me through

this lifetime race!



This is our season

our summer in the midst of winter

where we shed our coats, our boots

We leave behind the joyful chaos

of family and friends

We shed the stress

of everyday life

We steal away to our happy place

of paradise

We arouse years of memories

our minds free, schedule clear

ready to create this season's story.

Do you remember that couple

the elders we admired in '97? 

We are they!

From the restaurant's lanai

we watched as they walked

hand in hand

Their stride as one

moving in blissful unison

down that tourist filled 

sidewalk in Kona

Perhaps returning from dinner

or strolling for exercise

I imagined they were residents

fortunate to live there

In that moment

I claimed that sidewalk for us.


Twenty-four years later

we are that charming couple

walking hand in hand

claiming sidewalks wherever we go

We long for that sidewalk today

in Kona or Kihei, Kapaa or Princeville

We long for days without structure

no boundaries or stress

Only joy with time devoted only 

to us, that elderly couple in Kona

Occasionally we part

only to enhance 

our savored time together.

Hours and hours of favored music

songs repeated and songs anew

Our wondrous day rides

enthralled with island splendor

Our bewitching nights

enthralled in glory--ours

Sunrise awaits with roosters crowing

tropical birds serenade our walks 

fragrant flowers, brides, and grooms

lava flows and tropical mist

We're seduced by the ocean

enticed by waterfalls 

intrigued by rainbows

mesmerized by sunsets

radiant and golden, just like us.

What we need this year

is imagination

to encounter the pleasures 

of that sidewalk in Kona

Here we are

better . . . wiser . . . cautious 

held captive by winter 

with willful summer mindsets

Still laughing

Still loving

Still holding hands

Still hearing that music

Still seeking rainbows

Still enjoying our sunsets

Still together

Because you loved me

in stereo

with both your heart and mind!