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Poetry by Lyn Lifshin 

Lyn is an accomplished poet, responsible for over 100 books.  Winner of the Jack Kerouac Award, among others, she's been Poet In Residence at a few colleges, taught writing courses, and has been editor for four women writers anthologies.  Her latest book, Barbaro, Beyond Brokenness, is available from the Texas Review Consortium.  Visit her site.



© 2011 Lyn Lifshin







born of hardship after

WW2. Long lines of

starving people wait

for Osakaka, they didn't

want bread made with

white flour from U.S.

Suddenly, instant noodles,

chicken flavored, in

the late 50's, cups of

instant noodles for the

exhausted, for those

in shelters. Chicken

flavored ramen for the

soul, soulful, soothing.

Hot soup and noodles,

comfort food, waiting

for news of the dead.

Noodles for luck,

noodles in the cold north.

Noodles in the wind

where it smeared

on corpses and blossoms,

noodles for the starving

in this dire month.

Who can imagine a

better food







driving into blackness alone,

daring and driven,

leaving vapor trails.

On the run--

you can't tell if it is

toward or away from

what could hold her.

Alone with her

own thoughts, a comfort,

an ice pick. Hexagons

of what she's

flung from trailing

like hieroglyphs. No one

can read her. Wild

flying engines sing a song

so wild and blue it

blurs the night. No one

can really tell her

where to go

and she'll never know

until she gets there.

Her hand on the wheel

wishing who knows who was

there beside her. Is she

daydreaming Icarus?

half wishing the sky or

sea would gulp her?








the beauty of the

word "cellophane."

I think of the world

thru it. Slick black

cellophane, like

scrim where the

actors are shapes,

mysterious, shifting.

Makes me think of

blue sheets in a

room like a blue

motel. I wore bluer

lace bikinis. His

eyes the bluest.

She reminds me if

I’d been in Savannah

there'd have been

pouring rain and

my blues would have

tattooed you








Still, sometimes, I think Joni Mitchell

was my doppelganger, my other. Of

course it wasn't our voices. I don't

sing, not since an ex-husband  giggled

when I took down my old guitar. And

I wasn't the blonde with corn yellow

hair flowing free on beaches waves

crash, naked, wild to plunge into every

thing, at least not yet, waiting on

bleachers, plump as my fat bulky socks

decorated with bells and balls and tinsel,

aching to be asked to dance. But I was

painting as she was in a room with the

door closed as Otter Creek crashed

below the window and I was dreaming

of being on a stage. I was still half  the

unknown child but in the same tie dye I

saw her in a photo. Our nights at Club 47,

maybe the wine class she used was

the one I'd use later, already falling

for folk singers years before I'd finally

catch one. How easy those years to give

up a piece of one's soul on the way to

becoming blondes men might want to

dance with. I might have seen her in the

mirror, sliding from man to man, too often

the wrong one with the urge for going.

How often did we both envy Georgia O

Keefe, out there in the  blue and dusk

desert making beauty out of joy and pain.

"Ebullience and triestese" someone said

of me but nothing could have described

her better, feeling like she said, a cellophane

wrapper on a pack of cigarettes with

absolutely no secrets from the world,

hardly able to protect her life








All work is property of Lyn Lifshin.




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