Poetry from Lyn Lifshin


who called while he was
on air, asking where was
the peanut butter. Now she
probably has children of
her own. And the son who
said, when he saw a looker,
he had to jam his fist in
his mouth to not scream ,
became a priest. His photo
graphs in a drawer in a house
I rarely go to. They stay
as he never could . Lake blue
eyes the women who tuned into
went mad for like the blue
sweatshirt they fought for.
I painted over the mark he
left on the wall, He filled
poems as he filled me.
Now editors what to chance
Vietnam to Iraq. A week
after he told me he
loved, he pulled away,
packed off. Might as
well have been retreating
in to the jungle. Now you,
not your fault he insisted,
crazed. It’s old news but
those words jar, a knife,
tho he’s still dead


sometimes it’s a relief
to have it all done,
become code blue,
no, no mess, no fuss.
Gone like a pilot who
crashes and is never
heard from again.
There and not there
like a cat embryo
absorbed into the
mother cat’s blood.
Over, past stains and
longing. Finished as the
poems and relation
ships never are.
Complete. What you
cherished, diamonds,
rubies, all those clothes
that never kept the
blues from the door,
discarded . Those men
like lovers that didn’t
call tho they wanted
a piece of you, pieces
of clothes too small
for any of them, the
chance gone, as close to
you as for now
they can get


are only not on
e mail. You must have
known men like
that. But then, after
we both fly halfway
across the country,
only a dry kiss.
Others shove your
cat off the bed,
You imagine you’ll
get the same treatment.
Still, it doesn’t follow
if one saves a stray
diabetic cat and
cuddles and loves him,
that he’ll do the same
by you. And what
to make of the lover
who says he can’t find
anything wrong with
you, says you’re up there
in his “top ten girl
friends. Or the one
who was so stingy he
used his tea bag
12 times, opened a
box of cookies his
mother sent him,
munched away but
didn’t offer you one.
Some lovers are
Tuesday might lovers,
a fuck, not a bad one,
a cup of tea and
he’s gone.


took me to breakfast,
might as well have been
a million years ago

Someone who was supposed
to meet me didn’t. My
hair thicker and

darker, perfect skin
tho I didn’t know. A
decade ago he saved me at

an Above Paradise reading
on a west coast. He was
a looker, He seemed to care

I couldn’t remember, did I
sleep with him in some
abandoned year? and

then near the Everglades
he was there, with a look, a
way that said somehow

we had. Even with his
woman walking thru the
park with Florida flowers

perfuming the night, some
intimacy, some talk, some
hush as if we knew too

much about each other.
Some look These last
months he writes me more:

how I didn’t eat any
breakfast, just wasn’t
hungry and in the last note

this week, days nothing
good has happened, his
freeze frame of me:

on the bus stunning
he writes you were stunning,
wildly stunning

then you were gone


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/.