Lynn Strongin



How to get back to core
The lake’s unreadable eye?
She is thin            in a wheelchair rolls tall woman who might have raised foxhounds in the Cotswolds
In smart tweeds .
And the light is thin as knife-shine
Slicing into quarter hours energy allotments:
One thinks of post war allotments in Britain.
“nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands”
we live in the smoke where the bees disappear
& dear Doctor, Dear God
you polish off a beer
while we dwell on the ground
earth creature with sheer
spirituality to keep us going;
Ring our bells.
Fuel our fires.
A cruel fuel.

By now, I cannot shrug a jacket on
But must ask my lover to help me;
beloved Zhivago style: Russia cuffs, a muff would come
In elegantly
And fur fez with fur cuffs at long velvet black sleeves.
Some bling.
Fresh out of the oven:            sharp as a tack she is in her silver wheels
All elbows
A bony bird.
Thin appetite
After the tragic accident
Skimpy light pours thru German rooms of the old apartment where it happened.
Like with Chernobyl            burn units are at maximum.
I have no magical city but what if our love becomes an abandoned nuclear city?
No magical city but her
Like lower Manhattan becoming extinct:
Workers slumped on walls
Where is morale in all this sepia light
Which leaks like radium?
To be found!
She captures morale again twirling a brass ring made by the poor of a third-world country round her little finger
Hard as the fall was
Folding her paralyzed      numbed leg in an odd position
It turned, after all, into an envelope to God.
Silken as treacherous volcanic ash & smudge:
      Bone which the surgeons could not set straight but turned out cured this time:
      O arrow, fit the lit: Go in a straight line to the divinity who broods
      Over the compromised, building up courage again & again, , the disabled, those on the ground who go in their carts on crutches and in wheelchairs
To an unforgiving but still shining Lord.


Spilling silken ash
It is over being disabled & over the fact
Sunday’s child is closing
Windows of my heart are shuttered too.
Off to P.O. First.
Fold lengthy prayers, lengthy limbs to climb into a VW with two African basengi barking.
Fold away love letters, all the words of Mandelstam pile up like coal cakes
For the burning:
There is white coal too: Love.
In  Russian Jewry’s hardest ever time.
      Something in the heart is larking:
      It will not lie down
      Quietly & rive upward with Madonna eyes.
      It is not raven after crow
Nor crow after littler bird:
It is the silences between the words
Uttered, half-heard.


Dark in the library at two o’clock
Less dark in the heart.
The lake is unreadable
The day unbearable unless it break
Into a thousand pieces:
Reflecting ability & dis-
“She lives with paraplegia” writes the occupational therapist.
She is in the sky flying a fragile balsa plane
We are on the ground
Where worms turn
But also bulbs stir.
Does she know this thing?
She, with long legs, one fresh uncasted, lights up on the back porch a Sobranie, Black Russian:
It feels good to be renegade
Gentle rebel with husky voice
Going in bravery against the grain:
Straps, strops,
Buckles, wheels keeps us going.
My occupation is light, opening the sky
Closing in a black-purple tulip
Like a withered leg
At two o’clock.
But God knows that in the silence it knits, cell by cell, the bone
Like the soul.
The soul.


I KNOW THAT I’M THE SORT OF GIRL who will never catch up with herself.
I reach for the doweling
& my hand slips
so I skin both knees.     
I leap from the ground & am now able to reach it.
But try as I might
I cannot reach you
That year of separation.
Things change.
We must go back to Köln:
An artist’s town? Bohemian?
The place of your birth.
The birth
The birth of the blues
This friendship covering everything
An amniotic sac
The embryo of a love
Encased safely
But its heart
Its wild, terrific, feral, terrible heart

BEATING IN THE CORNER the pilot light
Like a bird who is dying
Like paralysis coming on
Driven back by wind
Or forward
Since it was in a library.
 Sitting beside that thornberry bush
Getting high on earliest winter sunset
Dipping us in dark
As the body is bathed in water
Circles swirling
Round & around.
We got the canary back in his cage:
We got the pilot light to ignite
We beat back fear
Even as our wings
(our arms rolling chairs)
were singed in the lifelong struggle
for mobility.
Living with paraplegia doesn’t begin to describe it:
Dipping down from heaven to earth
To have a smoke behind a barn in Bonn
An abandoned aerodrome in Köln
Mesmerized by the grey in each other’s eyes
Was the truest blue ribbon win.


Your eyes when you were a boy were different. You want your nails done with a gel: only metallic, or grey please.
Staring at a bisque doll, biscuit colored, painted rosebud mouth was for a girl
Back in those early days in Köln.
The outfields diagonal lines            & porcelain:
That European winter sky
We were alienated
Crossing like the Appalachians
Angel was not enough
But the hawk flew over:
The hawk of doubt, of separation, a shadow
Angel was not enough
A child’s garden of verses
Sprung rusty hub caps.
But you
You rose above them all:
Wearing your sole tattoo:
We got back in touch: our finger on a pulse this time we didn’t let it slip:
As though grace were not gone
Nothing every happened
Me with the orange tree of denial blooming in the corner of my heart
Me respecting your wishes for no communication.
Still the wires hummed
An excitement was building building:
Old rusted car parts, parts of watches & of the heart:
The Seer rose above it all
Battleship woman      sides of sky battleship grey
Nuremberg faded
Your brown brown eyes reflecting
A war cry? No a love cry of triumph
As cast after cast was removed
The yellow leg turned blue then bruise
Again the color of rose.
Love rose. The varied petals blossoming.


THE DARK CARNIVAL continues in my homeland
Amazing iconic objects in a dark bonnet. . .

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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