Two Poems

Poetry
Lynn Strongin


Smoke-Jumpers

They Scrape the Snow, Grazing
moose in Yellowstone            a difficult kind of feeding.
The Blessing of the animals.

While smoke-jumpers
put out fires with cones of water

but only to an extent:            it’s ecologically more sound to let some fire burn.
The rage that ate up my spine burned out

Left levelled, ash-scarred plains.
Never Never land.
I went back to find windbreaker, skis, poles
but they had been burned when the room
like Yellowstone was levelled of all trails of disease:
the scars shone like pits in polished gem-stone.

 

Failed Nerve strikes like a fuse blown in a city, a whole power station:

i.
The long pressure of the gem in earth creates nerve-pain:
One can lose daring in art, nature.

I think of my window-sitting:

A small child post-polio I was wiry, strong:
lace-making

In the bay window which got a New England slant of sun falling on lace-wheels
turning the cartwheels I could no longer perform
translating it into it a shade less snow, more ecru: bone. Like silver
tarnishing.

ii.
Strata of sadness            like layers of water lapping over steps
characterized our early lives:
the war, divorce, polio:

knobs of the spine
beads of a rosary.

Then the layers resembled mica
the silver ambitions, cruelties, battles of adolescence:
when we mistook for love flirtation.

Postured like a child of 9
I stooped behind a stump

Boo!
I twisted one skinny leg around the other
as if for the last time

holding back weeping
promising to be honest as the day is long.
But it exceeds understand:
the forked prey awas caught over & over again:

A half-year in state hospital at age 12 had given me a skewed idea of family:
I saw it as spiraled metal or wood.

I read this in my father’s sadness, our mother’s moods.
Any remants of bliss
possibility of childhood happiness

blew, shredded ethereal garments
in the Puritan wind of a merciful God had there been one:

our circle of lamplight was an embroidery hope
of sadness.

pencil

“I have poems in roughly 50 journals (Italy, England, Canada, the States.) Work in thirty anthologies, and nine published books of poems. I worked for Denise Levertov in the sixties, studied informally under Robert Duncan. My anthology The Sorrow Psalms:A Book of Twentieth Century Elegy will be published by the University of Iowa Press, April 2006. Work on-line in: Hotel Amerika, Storie, New Works Review (featured poet, winter 2005), C / Oasis, Terrain, Tryst, Avatar, Chiaroscuro.” E-mail: yosunt[at]shaw.ca.

Three Poems

Poetry
Lynn Strongin


The Failure to Speak miraculous things

could result in death.
Pressed up against the wall
the bookcase covered Anne Frank:
prayers against penury
of spirit:
the spirit overflowed with richness but the body lost.

You draw me a bridge on paper of charcoal     paper with nub & tooth:
I wheel thru
I open my arms
you open your arms
hope grafts wings
with a paper swish
crepe de Chine

Braided air.
Lightening.
now an elbow
now a shafting
dark eye
so fluent
but obviously flawed
spilling like liquid bronze the whole narration:
I flew too near the sun.

 

Hitting my Stride by Third Cabin Morning

I circle a porthole
with wing
humming broken Yiddish.
How come every time I run into you
with your gap-toothed smile
even on your way to the Cancer Clinic
in August
to receive more burns from radiation
because you take a doll to a girl
who will not live
I am happy.

I lean my poverty up against your poverty.
We are not nailed to each other.
Your silhouette
Anglican
moves apart from mine
like clay crumbling from form.
I cling
to the very room the words are in, the poem’s
origin
and dear to me as anything,     speech of the miraculous     that it
live:     even amid
the sight of ruins.

 

Birch Candles

Mahogany holds their burning circles
prisoners
in its table mirror.
Dust coats the ceiling.
Honeygold islands
hang out the window
& books     dot the room.
Garlic with olive oil in the pan
is what I hold     common
—loss ironed out the hour I am cooking:
And stoicism
in league with the Greeks’
beauty:
the rest from the Romans. pencil

These poems are “part of a sequence, Prayers Against Penury. I have poems in roughly 50 journals (Italy, England, Canada, the States.) Work in thirty anthologies, and nine published books of poems. I worked for Denise Levertov in the sixties, studied informally under Robert Duncan. My anthology The Sorrow Psalms:A Book of Twentieth Century Elegy will be published by the University of Iowa Press, April 2006. Work on-line in: Hotel Amerika, Storie, New Works Review (featured poet, winter 2005), C / Oasis, Terrain, Tryst, Avatar, Chiaroscuro.” E-mail: yosunt[at]shaw.ca.