Composing on my back in the hospital

ribs of winter
bitter cold

the little saddle-back tower
unadorned, box pews lovely

returned to me.
It was growing dark.
My favorite nurse was going off duty

clocking out:
The time was when no sun shone
I lingered among graves of childhood

found a very fresh one.
Read cards on sprays.

Why did I do this?
Why not?
No one else was about.
I knew on the ward I did not die

beyond bearing
children were dreaming
of touch, immortality.

The master switch was thrown:
we were plunged into the one hundred years of darkness which were night:
burial raves & white childmounds.

Chockablock full of ordinary everyday life

Night comes over the Hamptons
where you are
where I am.

You are afraid of this love:
And I am:
what happened to people
a glass of water a slap a smile
I longed for all that

I found my sound
in St Michael's Infirmary
the last village
the ward
where wedding feasts at village halls
no longer came by.

Night will slip off from the Hamptoms & leave that dry being, bony
Only the confetti
of prescriptions, nightly medications, sinking like oil into lamps:
trees out the gate nervously blown.


A Delivery

My husband and I
deliver meals on wheels
once a month to the elderly,

the infirm, the homebound
of our town.
He is the driver,
I carry the basket,
a kind of retirement age
Red Riding Hood in a bulky parka.
This day in March,
a wintry mix of sleet and snow
everyone remarks on it,
how long the winter seems, how cold.
There’s this lady on our route,
you can tell what a beauty
she’d been once,
wide blue eyes,
a Slavic face.
She’s had a stroke, can barely speak,
but smiles her thanks as I leave.
And just outside, at her backdoor,
there’s her garden,
small green shoots already pushing up, her crocuses,
visible, returning.

I check her name off
in the book they give us,
Paid in Full.
She has been delivered,
from youth into old age.
and in her garden, look,
from winter’s earth, a spring


     To be emotionally successful is like, what?

April in Paris

I am spending time watching the
shattered steel above my head deflect
bullets aimed at me (though not personally)
I have time to watch the shape of the steel
deform from countless rounds, I was always
weak at math, resilient steel, richochets
in the dark are somewhat otherworldly,
as if I am grounded in anything but video
game training, I imagine me and the steel have
a relationship, I give him dialogue, and
he (?) requires no batteries, I am losing it,
in more ways than one, there is litle else for
me to do, so I have the steel, nobody else knows
I am here, that does not include the enemy who is
wasting a lot of small arms fire, this is their
steel that is protecting me, I am the enemy, they
live here, I have been sent here, I keep wanting to
hear music, even psychotic accordion music, I hate
the accordion, the enemy does not need to be taught
to hate me, I am squadless, without command, I am
bleeding but do not care so much, we had a new lieutenant
sent to us from somewhere where there is no need to
contemplate sheltering steel, he gave a small speech,
his superiors would have been proud, his mother too....
But his head was blown off and everybody else was blown
up and away, I have all their food and ammo and water, the
lieutenant gave us confidence, which they say is renewable,
unfortunately, the lieutenant is not.

High School Hall

Lizard Lisa, 18
the losing
in shabby goodwill
old felt hat
without hope
now nursing a grin
net stockings hung
over one thick
moves her fast
up the stairway
kisses a computer geek
and then a nerd
who collects slide rules
that slow smile
on her lips
the disenfranchised
lurch away to dreams of recess
a boy who just received
an academic scholarship
stretches his
pretends to reach
her bound cleavage as
she winks at another loser
maintaining her glower
knocking papers
across the gray tile
slides curving
following the graffiti arrow
pointing where
boys make like
cool is happy
after the dismissal
yes, yes asphalt beckons
day after

More Correspondence Fragments

Da Doo Ron Ron, you
must imagine: I am sitting at my IBM Selectric
with my 3 cats upon the desk
and cannot remember why I sat down to write to you
Oh, yes, now I remember, it is either
I write to you or watch basketball on TV
or read a biography of Victor Hugo—
I am listening to Doo Wop which originated at Wildwood
New Jersey 1957. I know because my friend Larry Califano
was there then performing with his brothers.

So many things are due you for remembering
and personalizing my birthday. I am wowed and
(reluctantly) humbled. How very unlike me
to be choked up. Anyway, it was 90 degrees here
& we did a lot of water balloons,
mostly pitching them to each other
& smacking them with a baseball bat.
The cats loved it and so did I.
Carol made fish 'n chips, Alaskan halibut filets &
curly fries. Tim brought me a $40 bottle of tequila &
took us for a ride on his new jet sled on the Rogue River.
He is a big NASCAR fan and drives like one,
hats don't stay on yer head.
I also got eleven Japanese samurai VHS movies
all sealed up in the original shrink wrap,
$2.99 each from the Goodwill.

Last night I dreamed I was attending
some sort of conference at a casino. My agent
told me that Val Kilmer had called and left a message
for me to call him back. Then I knew I was the star
of this particular Hollywood movie.
In the real daytime life I continue to make great strides
in alienation of affections. Dumped by a new friend
who says I am too critical. Unable in any way
to relate to Sam Wesley, who now resembles
a continuously drunk holocaust survivor.
I think I may be leaving somebody important out.
I think all this is supposed to make me feel
really lousy about myself, but I don't.
Anyway, how are you?

Drove around with the top down

1970 455 GS convertible
green body by Fisher
disrupted by decay
losing to Honolulu rust
motor power eager to exceed
acceptable risks and propel
by laying rubber in all four gears
anything attached to it,
even rust

Awhila go

I had intentions
to re-structure
another person's life,
(however) she beat me
to the punch
& left me feeling
sub-adequate & beige


A geezer in a seat
clutches his knapsack
eyes on the road,
he is writing a letter
with gritty sincerity,
"Dear Sylvia"--
for a moment
he is angry,
he carves a thought
onto paper with ink,
"You said you'd love me forever"--
he wonders about his love,
looks out the door of the Greyhound
toward dingy love
no alimony or child support,
is it that money is imaginary?
& many plans are crude,
he will take the bus to Butte
while outside the noise
rattles his mind
synapses misfire
he does barely
smell its circuits
a frying like plastic
with charcoal

Segments of Correspondence

The magma here is rising
the sap is sluggish
more photos very excellent
tell the girls they may be appearing
on the label of a bottle check it out
in real human handwriting
along the bottom edge of the card its says
sounds like treason to me.

Carol agreed with your dour evaluation
"much of my life irresponsible stupidity"
she even reasoned carefully giving numerous graphic examples
I was actually somewhat stunned
a lack of hysteria
can be most disconcerting
choices are based on what?
altruism? a lust for chaos? clinical depression?
being born in Ohio?

Just drove a Porche god what a ride
cruised the Klamath river to Happy Camp
I identify with the most excellent swordsman
in that movie
I gave up on Edgar Allan Poe long ago
today I had lunch with friends
I sometimes have that effect on people
there may be layers to you that are unknown to me?
Gawd what a river it is just raging
through this incredibly beautiful valley
he just returned from the clinic last October
we are going to the coast to watch the whales
maybe drive through the redwood stretch
you and I took long ago

I am so not fond of reality
people are aghast that I will be
standing in line next Friday
with hundreds of rabid teenagers to see the premier
of HELLBOY. Gawd who would want to see
reality based COLD MOUNTAIN? Yeccch!
so much sunlight in the picture
we think you both look very dapper
who took it? what a glorious day!
anyway the world of cars
what a relief from the world of the clinically
and chronically mentally ill, & you?
there is not a movie he has even seen
that he has disliked.
This guy is a jewel.

It is awfully kind of you to say
the persistence of my face.
Our cat Milkshake (whom the grandgirls named)
is now 6 months old, the birds
are amused at his efforts.
You are even more splendid and have boku
self-esteem, right?
What would Xena, warrior princess do?
Make it so.

Lynn Strongin has seven published books and lives in British Columbia, Canada, although she was born in New York City. Her work has appeared in fifty journals including Poetry, Shenandoah, Praire Schooner, Southern Humanities Review, Island, Raddle Moon, Antigonish Review, Prism International (the last four Canadian), Trace (England), and
Storie (Italy). StorySouth has nominated Strongin for a Pushcart Prize; a chapter of her memoir INDIGO will be published by The Dublin Quarterly; and her anthology The Sorrow Psalms:A Book of Twentieth Century Elegy will be published by the University of Iowa
Press next April.

June Logue is a retired school teacher residing in Metuchen, NJ. She has been writing
poems for most of her life and has recently begun to publish them.

Wayne Richards is a retired psychiatric caseworker who lives in Medford, Oregon.
He drives a BMW motorcyle on mountain roads when he is not entertaining
his grandchildren or his wife.

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