Poems by Lyn Lifshin

“INDEED, WHY DIDN’T WE?”

There, like a tongue
any place you can
imagine it could go.
Before, e mails
were hotter than
Austin nights.
Electrical, I know
what burned could
scorch. You were safe
in paper. In reviews,
it’s an e mail
affair. They can’t
feel the flame of your
thigh after three
margaritas. Or that
I shook that my
body wasn’t
perfect enough. A
hunk others
gasped and of
course there were
the bare armed
young girls in their
summer dresses.
You write, “missing
in action love, and,
indeed, why
didn’t we?” and
this slick grey I slog
thru shines and
now, as if seven years
hadn’t dissolved.
I imagine the ache
in La Rosa bar,
drunk on lust or
wanting, that
longing for what
those thick musky
nights I haven’t
felt since

LIKE FALLING MADLY IN LUST WHEN
JUST HEARING A DEATH SENTENCE

it’s that way with
him. I think of
mothers starting
to fade as their
daughters blossom
where time is
churned and
telescoped and
someone in 2009
can fall in love
with a man born
in 1620. In
another life, I’d
be your muse
as you’ve been
mine but then,
without this
wild longing
for what
isn’t, what
can’t be, no
poems
would happen

“IN THE VIOLET HOUR” ON A PAGE, MAYBE
IN A POETRY BOOK SOMEONE WAS
READING ON THE METRO

“the violet hour” mid
July and especially
yesterday. Blues band
playing. Dupont Circle,
heavy with roses.
Cappuccino in the out
side café. The violet
hour. The slash of page
I saw and something
about getting up from
the desk and I wonder,
did he go out to wait
for the moon or the
musk of peonies, ferns
or walk into the room
where a woman waited,
her legs, her everything
open to him

WHEN I LOSE THE ENVELOPE OF WHAT MATTERS

those Black Sparrow postcards,
then the card from Bill Press.
How he showed my Black
Sparrow books on cable
TV and I knew I had the
publisher of my dreams,
for a bit. You can’t hold anything
long. The love notes from men
who wrote poem after poem
about me after an hour over coffee.
The one who cared for the hunt
and always, because he had
not caught me, longed to take me
down. Poems, good ones, lost
now. In some landfill, or archives
by mistake. For months, the house,
chaos, but this envelope, safe in a
file with less exciting things
that mattered. But then, like for the
moment we had that seemed
right, seemed they could be, just
space from what’s truly gone

“NEVER,” SOMEONE ON TV SAYS
“COMPETE AGAINST 25 YEAR OLDS”

Wanting you, anyway, there
can’t be an end of the
story since there won’t be
a story. Call it “ you know
it’s an old song” you
can’t compete with
25 year old beauties.
But he did love my poems,
read everything the first
few months. I’m your
# 1 fan he whispered, his
mouth in my hair. Are
you shocked? I bought
clothes I didn’t need
for him, made hair
appointments for the day
of my class in his arms,
felt like so long I hadn’t.
When he kissed me
I dreamed it meant some
thing more, that “that was
a good class,” his “we’ll
have to go out and talk
about movies and your poems,”
meant we might. Once I
almost bought a coat
because he loved it, didn’t
then spent weeks when
it was gone, hunting it down
as I have him, elusive,
even in dreams. No,
I can’t, even with a 19 inch
waist and long good legs,
long blond hair compete
with 25 year olds. But
unlike the young girls with
beautiful skin, their elbows
if you look just beginning
to be kissed by earth
I can, as they never could,
with a few words,
make him
immortal

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About Lyn Lifshin

A former Ray’s Road Review contributor, Lyn Lifshin has written more than 125 books and edited four anthologies of women writers. Her poems have appeared in most poetry and literary magazines in the U.S.A, and her work has been included in virtually every major anthology of recent writing by women. She has given more than 700 readings across the U.S.A. and has appeared at Dartmouth and Skidmore colleges, Cornell University, the Shakespeare Library, Whitney Museum, and Huntington Library. Lyn Lifshin has also taught poetry and prose writing for many years at universities, colleges and high schools, and has been Poet in Residence at the University of Rochester, Antioch, and Colorado Mountain College. Winner of numerous awards including the Jack Kerouac Award for her book Kiss The Skin Off, Lyn is the subject of the documentary film Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. For her absolute dedication to the small presses which first published her, and for managing to survive on her own apart from any major publishing house or academic institution, Lifshin has earned the distinction “Queen of the Small Presses.” She has been praised by Robert Frost, Ken Kesey and Richard Eberhart, and Ed Sanders has seen her as “a modern Emily Dickinson.” Her website can be found at: http://www.lynlifshin.com/