Lynn Strongin

Looking A bit Further North

(after Elizabeth Bishop)


Time to pool the leftovers
“the circular infant’s face” (Ezra Pound “After Brennbaun”)
cross check changes to be sure the transplants have smoothed edges and are all
               accounted for.
Rubbing shoulders
The proximity to strangers
A huge town
Tweeds rubbing cottons
Rubbing taffetas those all set to go to the ball
Like Bishop, nail polish impeccable
Lesbian love beating out the blue inside her for that tall gal all sunshine
Who put Bishops’ letters in order.
The radius was small
The circle was broken
Dried flowers on the bath sill in glass vase
What rubbish was I hearing now
Mistress Mine muttering in the doorway
“from where I’m standing you two look like you’ve got till doomsday.”
Fancied tasted a sweetmeat.
Wild. Bristling. Doing rappel. Taking chances for the celestial tumble
The global fall: I wanted it all:
I was looking further north.

THE LITTLE STONE HOUSE with the chimney pushed in

It stood
Our childhood
Chairs tilting.
This is no time to put an ocean between us
Now the lights go on
Clocks leap ahead      we are not ready for so much light
We want to travel to England to see how the heather looks
Our souls are furnished with words that spring from British earth
Winds that wound around Bronte’s house
Ratty’s riverbank
Pook’s Hill.
But we need a guide.
Not that beast bourbon.
Not my addictions:
First gin itself
Then sleep’s enchantments stirring, delivering me from pain
Finally sending, over sparked fresh wonderment of seeing ancient storyplaces.
If you deem an excessive quantity of red ink spilled over typewriting we courts out main things:
Parts misleading
Unnecessary descriptions
Any driveling.
Yet lingering
We get ride of useless words like rather very, definitely
Disliked, such as children
Grace poised
We are breaking the circle
Knowing out all passion not true
Squarely as adults looking further north again.


the rhubarb express in British coal mines
Going into a sod house
With lit windows
We make a home
Oil lamps.
We will get to where we’re from
Few scoldings
The long coal tunnel a graph-line of darkness     turned to bright.
Was I shy into my seventies about my body?
Nettles & briars & blueberries
The torque of my curls.
Children’s’ voices rise thru the wooden floor, Amish chairs in a circle.
While I increase doing things that the fire will not devour.
Scarlight flickers on pewter mugs in the pub
Flickering here in Fawnhaven.
I will go the distance with you
Blowing out candles over cool cots, hands
When your things those you forgot to say
Come back to me
Clear as the bones in an intricate lit up x-ray.

WE CANNOT FIND where to hang pictures

Where to reach God?
Bread knob dough
village baked
Only ten minutes away
The blood vocabulary
Out of syllables
Stops the child at the perimeter of the glassy field.
A pleasant stream adrift with white ducks run through the center
Fold of the books
And homes were set about a tiny tree-shaded green.
The flashlight’s batteries have died:
You walk along, it in your pocket you feel secure
Yet insecurity is at the heart of the next task:
A flash of water with no liquid left:
A right turn which should have been heartside of the body                the left
The wren shot thru sparrowgate                      arms crucified, the wings
Blurring at knotholes in trees
& other bemused things
while the muse herself in a near-whisper sings:
You change my morphine patches religiously as though morphine
Could glean some of the pain
And drop it in a stream
Like gold, pooling.
A right
Childhood was both the hood that protected
And the space one looked out           like the two eye-holes in a burn mask.


A knife divides lakes & river. And mirrors
It ignites the room
Lightning blackens silverware
A common tarnish.
Banish from thought all vanish
Of that child in the burn cast: two peep holes for eyes.
Foxhole, break in the woods of wander & wanting
To phone my friend
For a latte down the block & apricot turnover, popover really
To find absolute silence never found, make places of absolute silence
When I didn’t hear from her for so long—why be hurt
But she was the go to person
Better than a fear of doorknobs
You entering my room
Just before the lightning when the air turns green
We evade each other’s glances as super-potent
O relent, relent
My number are on paper soft as leather:
Whom to call, the go to person for peace
Of mind
& she for harshest dark beak deep winter-in weather.

A Pulitzer Prize nominee several years ago for SPECTRAL FREEDOM, Lynn Strongin has been nominated five times for the Pushcart Prize, and this year for the Lambda Award. Received an NEA creative writing grant in New Mexico in the seventies. Studied with Denise Levertov, Robert Duncan, and others.
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