A Little Poetry home width=61 height=87> Lynn Strongin
Featured Poet


Lynn Strongin
Lynn Strongin, contemporary American poet & editor, has published seven books (nine by late 2006) and is a recent Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work appears in numerous anthologies and journals, both in print and on-line. Her anthology The Sorrow Psalms:   A Book of Twentieth Century Elegy will be published June, 2006 by the University of Iowa Press. Ms. Strongin's career in literature began in the early 1960's. You can find this poet's full biography and additional work at her website.

(bio current as of December, 2005)

Browsing thru an album, Romanian photographs

Floating in a milk-blue dream   into my past    its pearls rifted
thru its arches its gypsy bands babushkas in skeletal bones
these dark-haired children, these Onion domes. . .

drifting on a world gone
I reach out, touch a cloud, part of that world ceramic, not porcelain: Pearled, cracked open: 
Schoolrooms full of brash kids. I say the name Ploesti aloud & watch the oil refinery
lynn strongin portrait

miraculously implode:
the burn rolls backward, flesh unseamed:
I open eyes to ash & dust coating the limbs:

All ruckus & rucksack:

        Somewhere, whatever road
however the weather-vane
      there will be a testing grade up & up silver incline
      between origin & destination.


My infirmity     casts a shadow.
It cannot slip thru a loophole now. O shadow,
Soft coal trains go thru night          on pastel paper furred as though a blotter

took them in.
Snow falling into the Hudson. We are talent & darkness
If you ride a bicycle you know when you're going         uphill. All Court Green.

An eleven-thousand-ton train
you perceive the grade.
Say running coal cars out of Powder Basin.
The steepest grade takes breath away.   The infirmity folds back in.
The lowest gives it back again. Engine's shadow is folded back into frame.
On a scale of 1 to 5
        I'm at 3 in between:
        A thin screen catches pulse & heartgraph:
reflection & real thing.

 Power flickers
        a bolt from the unknown
                unknowable white-hot:   
                strikes a scene which mirrors Dickinson's engraving of heaven.

5 a.m.

Headlights drill darkness
chips of light, like wood, burn open
into a halo     like the infant's unclosed fontanel.

Something linear is draped across the landscape shimmering:

if it tries to move at all, it spills, it falls.
With too many cars
the train tears itself apart.

Waking, early morning, last of night
coal trains grow in length              like a shadow elongating:
I contemplate, pray
        drilling darkness:      To bear great weight
yet not break in two:
chips of light. Bleak's heart torn open:
        He thought he knew it all, understood it all:
        Now, what does Peter Wise say
to broken vows?
        To owls that hoot their eyes unclosed?

        I am your soul, the winsome stranger (Louise Gluck, The New Yorker, October 3, 2005 Fugue)

Peter is no winsome stranger

though he rises & falls         flails & fails
with a clamor   at changes of weather:  & yet is wise.

A ballast of lust
a blast of

the first frost
over the pond, a mirage: stem-cells base. Stars in ice

Ice looking-glass reflecting steeple, hill.
Always the mysterious part
--that ache of phantom  limb kicks in.

Mile Zero

One-legged              boy hero's statue       takes first blows of ice moon now:
Fox      cast in bronze, hitch of shoulder, speed of burly body emanating from.

The valley of paradise chilled the body.
Thunder Bay
sounded at the end like a big wooden Cross of the Railroad Stop Look Listen

Everlasting Wonder.     Grand Glory.
Sometimes you clear
moss from the tomb.

Martin Luther's
95 theses
nailed to the door

        Virtuous, verity, Luther,  that's fine:
        but lacking virtuoso speed & shine.

Copyright  Lynn Strongin