Monday, March 11, 2013

Seven Poems By Legendary Poet Lyn Lifshin At Zombie Logic Review

Lyn Lifshin is a poet I admire and respect as much as any. To have her work appear here at Zombie Logic Review is a great honor. I want to tell this brief story because I don't have many great poetry stories, and I think this one is pretty good. I was invited to read at my friend Christian Nelson's house one Saturday. Of course I agreed because Christian was the editor of Kumquat Meringue and a good guy. But what I didn't know was two of the most legendary small press poets ever, Todd Moore, founder of Outlaw Poetry, and Lyn Lifshin, were also reading. So, there I was on a Saturday night in Stillman Valley, Illinois, in Christian Nelson's basement, reading poems from my first book, Concave Buddha, with two of the best poets in America.


in your e mail
years after. Catalpa
sweaty nights
and the margaritas.
Your thigh touching
on the brown velvet
couch. An “e mail
romance” a review
says of one poem.
She couldn’t have
known how skin,
how the margaritas
were tied with black
roses. Or how when
I was no longer my
leather jacket,
something he could
casually toss on
the bed, asked
did I want to shower,
ice filled the stifling
small Austin room
and tho everything
inside was saying yes,
yes, I didn’t


of the woman obsessed
with my first lover
wrote me. (Another
story there’s still a lot
to mine) of a man
who could make his
lover have an orgasm
by command, at a
distance maybe over
the phone or mail.
I don’t think they
had texting or Face
book or  mail. (And

of course I don’t
know if it was his words
or something she did)

Still when I got your

email, when after
the fantasy that didn’t
happen and the terror
it could, terror it
wouldn’t, your “indeed,
why didn’t,” something
in me that wasn’t alive
became alive as if
skin touched me

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
would happen


But keep it a secret.  He’s
in his bad boy mask. I can’t
resist that persona as if
the others weren’t magnets
too. But it’s part of the
black dirty hair, too long
jeans. What is it about this
kind of man that women
crawl to them? I can see my
self on my knees, even in
fragile fishnet tights. “Party”
I don’t think it’s a birthday
party with candles and
I doubt he wants to take me
out to ready my poems
tho some time ago he did tell
me he wanted to talk about
about them. To party suggests
drugs or sex a little rock
and rolling.  The idea doesn’t
sound bad. Then, like in a
dream, plans change
and it’s over

one woman e mailed her neighbor
“go outside Right Now. Look
into the dark.” In another park,
a man flicked a pen light, waited
for a signal

I walk back from the metro and
the grass is rhinestone sparkling,
its as if stars had landed close
to my tights

1/40th of a candle. It’s seduction
and rejection, codes and
code breaking, mating and
eating alive

not that different from when
my ex-con lover lived
in the trees behind my house,
the poet with his books of
the letters of Katherine Mansfield,
his long trip to mate,
hiking across country

with broken shoes. His letters,
firefly babble, flashes of conversation,
talking as animals usually do\
about sex

His bottle of Chateau y Kempe,
a code, blink blink and some
dashes, bliiiiink, blink. And so
when the motel money he had ran
out, my first—tho I was married
years, I’d wait at the bathroom

window with the door closed
so my husband couldn’t see
and turn the lights on and off
to let him know I was there
and I was thinking about,
was wanting him

like the life of a male fire fly
his life was not easy. Stealing
bottles of wine off porches at nearby
diners and running out to get his
wallet and never reappearing.

Some female fireflies devour
the male. Some fire flies must like it.
If I didn’t flash the light so he
could light his lighter in return
he thought I’d fallen out of
love, if it was love not just a

tiny flame. Some male fireflies
are better than others. No surprise.
Like lightning bugs, we were working
with a time limit. Winter was coming
and he couldn’t just stay in the
leaves, the snow was coming. My

husband thought we were going thru
so much food. Like fireflies, he was
better than others. The ladies went wild.
Enough to have him for a season
bringing a little light into the
suburbs, a dazzling connection,
best, or only, in utter darkness

the dancing men are gorgeous.
Whether you are 20 or 200
one of them will find some
thing outside the ballroom
studio, will find more than
dance to pleasure. Say you’ve
had a down day. One of the
men will grab your hip or hair
or bite your neck. Just let
it happen. It’s part of their
job to please you. One
will touch you all over
more than the man you’re
with in bed. The other
looks like he came out of
the Chippendales. He’ll
dance and make you laugh
before he moves in for
the kill which is only
metaphorical. These men
can dance the leather
off their shoes. And yours,
but if they were put in a
horizontal I’m sure they’d
do fine. Take them to
the opera, a film, one knows
about even more. The
other knows porn and if
you really are bored, he’ll
make a porn film, even
put you in it


it’s 89 at the ballet
barre where she stretches
open as if for him. Sex
is good for turnout one
ballet teacher said but
hers is a ghost love,
obsession with a ghost
love. Still when she
splits, spreads her thighs,
is as open as she can
be, she can’t not think
of how, in his arms,
when he pressed
against her on the
dance floor, especially
when he grabbed her    
from her man. It was
a dangerous tango.
Electricity, that staccato
love and hate. It was
all in the dance
but the dance was
all. But of course it
meant nothing. He’s
only real in the poems
in her head, that, in this
heat, waltzing and turning,
leaping as if to escape.
Or is it to catch him?
She only half hopes she
can sweat him out

Lyn Lifshin has written more than 125 books and edited 4 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."

Lyn Lifshin's prizewinning book (Paterson Poetry Award) Before It's Light was published Winter 1999-2000 by Black Sparrow Press, following their publication ofCold Comfort in 1997. The Licorice Daughter was published in February 2006 andAnother Woman who Looks Like Me was published by Black Sparrow-David Godine in October 2006. ( Also books include A New Film About a Woman in Love with the Dead, March Street Press, Marilyn Monroe, When a Cat Dies,Another Woman's Story, Barbie Poems, The Daughter I Don't Have, What Matters Most, and Blue Tattoo. Lifshin has won awards for her non-fiction and edited four anthologies of women's writing including Tangled Vines, Ariadne's Thread and Lips Unsealed. Her poems have appeared in most literary and poetry magazines. Her poem "No More Apologizing" has been called "among the most impressive documents of the women's poetry movement" by Alicia Ostriker. An update to her Gale Research Projects Autobiographical Series, "On the Outside, Lips, Blues, Blue Lace," was published in Spring, 2003. Texas Review Press published her poems about the famous, short-lived, beautiful race horse, Ruffian: The Licorice Daughter: My Year with Ruffian. New books include Mirrors, August Wind, Novemberly and just out spring 2008, 92 Rapple Drive and Desire. She is working on a collection about poets, Poets, (Mostly) Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially the Lies will be published by World Parade and Tsunami will come from Blue Heron Press. Other forthcoming books include a book about the courageous and riveting race horse, Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness from Texas Review Press, Nutley Pond from Goose River Press, Lost in the Fog from Finishing Line Press, Persephone from Red Hen. For interviews, more bio material, photographs, reviews, a contact, interviews and samples of her work, browse this website: Lyn Lifshin

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