Lynn Strongin



Opening an old copybook 
from grammar school             with shiny deltas & rivers, hairpin curves, needletop
I think how far I have traveled. 
A tablecloth of lands 
parchment pale          like the old white damask of the Pullman, a rose on the
dining cars. 
Just when I thought I was ready to receive the people in my dreams. 
Carols come: 
They part the song down the middle 
like wheat-fields by a wind: 
they split like children in a bee. a cross between obedient & mischievous. 
Charleston street. 
Our love ends up before the fire. 
Earlier, we went shopping with a toy glass telescope 
to see into windows             of cellars: 
Put songs in our mouths like a hot potato 
when we were freezing. 
Nearly swallowed a coal. 
        Now I am at the station, touching flashbacks till they burn in my hands &
curl like old maps; 
        A dram for the ashman. A quarter less green pill tonight; 
I am ready to receive the people in my dreams. 


Paris to Kiev (for a sister)
You brought the ceiling down at Carnegie 
they wouldn’t stop until they got a 3rd encore. 
You brought me home the crumpeld train ticked marked “Dachau,” 
put it in my lap. I said, “How could you?” 
People said you looked more Jewish than me: hazel eyes, almond eyes: 
I was the girl with the Baltic green eyes but we both had the gypsy soul. 
You are practicing for Korea 
“not hard enough.” 
Back in the apartment           after the concert, 
you part the cold with your crying 
        it burns, tears to salt our potatoes: 
        burns the night like coal. 


Something in the North forbids spoiling [The north's too cold for spoiling:
that tattered rosehead like velvet from a young boy’s cheek 
the white terrace 
abandoned by all but snow & wind.       The chipped enamel basin with black
Were you entirely off-base with me when I was young? 
You said you might have done yourself in. 
You said I’d take love where I found it. 
My goal was different:

To become vivider & vivider
travel a distance
home from the Kiosk and the Chinese take out.

Have the children of the Tsunami lost their memories
of parents
home? The trauma so severe

I was that choir boy singing 
during immigration, 
standing to the side    a dark take on it all.  Night packed it in with indigo: backed with
black felt.
        Hungering for peak moments:             hugging my handicap like a cloak, the girl
with the Coke-bottle green eyes:
        an out-of-body experience I listened to the Blind Boys of Alabama and knelt.


Sky’s throat holds more than the pelican        can:
darkness, revelation
banked bleakness:               storm: snow or rain.

Up dark & early:
taking case histories
tying Sabbath sashes for this one, that one

Soon winter:            tell her with paralysis about
imagination having wings.
days will be filled with a roll of bright mercury.
Hooded hours
Gray days:
fuels circulating.  
“I believe there are angels among us”
says the bank teller.
Down bright & early, a melodious address
the soprano trembles:
I took that journey as a child
a table set for one in the wilderness:
a bead of quicksilver sliding across clear glass
becoming opaque  opaquer.

Not me, racing under sea lighting matches:
Not mine
frailty under steel-strong duress is witness
        A last, a terrible address:
        Blues, Shoo face:
You’d have the road rise to meet you
        the sun at your back
        God’s face shining upon you
        final grace,
there is        song of glass
        anguish of glass
        on the rack
        lashed to the mast:     I Icarus?
Where angels among us:
        Amen, Adam & Anne & Iris,
                on the other side of the river
                that God who shakes your life like thunder will rest:
                Amen, Requiem, grass.
                the ultimate address,
                Despair, Rue #1 Elas, No one knows us: No caress.