Poetry by Lyn Lifshin


hitching into mystery,
jiving in the mountains.
I think of her dancing
to an old juke box, a
gold snake on her wrist,
old ghosts, lips of
serpents who love the
whiskey bars. I imagine
the wind in her blondeness
on the prairie. I think of
her restless in honky
tonks, in lace. I think of
those shadows that
feel like touching,
of shadows that feel
like skin. Now all she
wants since she can’t
have you is for you
to shiver, put her on your
danger list


it’s not that she doesn’t have many,
has had enough, more than most.
But it’s the ones that do her
wrong, misbehave, are torn from
her that haunt. Black velvet
ripped from her neck as she looked
in Hallmarks, Then, last night,
pale, almost a white flesh velvet
one falls from her arms, not unlike
the lover she wants wrapped as
close, would give up dignity
drunk on him as someone
plastered in a bar who will beg
his, any shoulder to lean on, hold
sure she’s so high on him she
can’t walk or think right


like tumbleweed, like
milkweed. Wind
blown, drifting between
hands. Oh she’s a
free spirit boys use to
sing to me too, shaking
their head. No one
can hold her. My mother
tried to, my father didn’t
care. Joni knew you
could be so drawn
and quartered. Wanting
a home with candles
around the door,
wanting a man who’d
be there to hold her and
then packing in the
night, eloping alone with
strangeness in a short
skirt and heels, fuck me
shoes and a hooker
sequin mini: a mask, a
moat only the wind catches


when I hear butterflies
and lilac sprays, the
glitter, the what she
heard in the wind,
a fierce lullaby.
I think of Virginia
Woolf keeping
fragments, scraps of
images, tossed
them in a drawer. I
think if I cut lines
from a random
number of songs,
Chelsea Morning,
California and esp.
Blue, color that
leaks thru my writing
and put, like slices
of colored glass
or velvet squares from
a quilt into kaleidoscopes,
into a bedroom drawer
and waited to see
what would coalesce,
each time I dipped
the verbs would
keep changing and I
don’t think I could
tell Mitchell’s
words from mine



About Lyn Lifshin

A former Ray’s Road Review contributor, Lyn Lifshin has published over 130 books and chapbooks including three from Black Sparrow Press: Cold Comfort, Before It’s Light, and Another Woman Who Looks Like Me. Before Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle, Lifshin published her prize-winning book about the short-lived beautiful race horse Ruffian, The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian and Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness.  Recent books include Ballroom, All the Poets Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead, All True, Especially The Lies, Light At the End: The Jesus Poems, Katrina, Mirrors, Persphone, Lost In The Fog, Knife Edge Absinthe: The Tango Poems .  NYQ books published A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also just out: For the Roses – poems after Joni Mitchell and Hitchcock Hotel from Danse Macabre. Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle.  And Tangled as the Alphabet,– The Istanbul Poems from NightBallet Press. Just released as well : Malala, the dvd of Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. The Marilyn Poems was just released from Rubber Boots Press. An update to her Gale Research Autobiography is out: Lips, Blues, Blue Lace: On The Outside. Also just out is a dvd of the documentary film about her: Lyn Lifshin: Not Made Of Glass. Forthcoming books include Luminous Women: Eneduanna, Schererzade and Nefertiti: Femina Eterna and Moving Through Stained Glass: the Maple Poems.

Her website: www.lynlifshin.com.