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Darling darling this is a steeplechase

Around us life becomes surreal: a china plate is steel

Its reflections a cross  between spiritual & industrial.

Evangelical comes the rain: cold, hard, winter rain

Like nails pressing the whole image




Home has become a minefield:


                 from Though you slept by Lynn Strongin 






Epiphany - a poetry cycle




1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Lynn Strongin


Lynn Strongin was born during the last of the dirty thirties. Raised in various states during the war, when her father, a psychologist, was stationed everywhere but abroad.  She survived three traumas during the first twelve years of her life. World War Two affected her deeply since, a Jewish child, she was aware The Holocaust was directed against the Jewish race. Her parents divorced at age nine, when the ground in Europe was still smoking. At age twelve, she contracted polio, a year or so before the Salk and Sabin vaccine came in. Paralyzed from the waist down, it was the third dark time in which she learned song would be her salivation.


Author of fourteen books, she has received a National Endowment for the Arts award, two PEN awards (Poets, Essayists & Noveletis) and several years ago was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in literature. A Pacifist, she has fought for women’s rights, rights of the disabled, and against America’s involvement in Southeast Assia.. Marches against the United States brutalities in Southeast Asia saw her presence.  Her mentors have been Denise Levertov, Robert Duncan and the Black Mountain School, and Kay Boyle.









                                                “O my Poor People” (Winstone Churchill, WW II, on rationing)


For Helen Macdonald, her barony the fiefdom of wild things most of all the hawk “spooky pale-eyed ghosts” for Helen who was drawn to this “feathered shotgun” who studied, in Sun Valley, Idaho, the archives of falconry Bereavement and raptor come from the same root: to rob Helen  Macdonald



'Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed—Mark Twain



(c)Lynn Strongin






I walked past transparent brick linen mills

Past boys & girls eyes as dark as thunder

Ir clear7 as mountain lakes

I clutched a sone to my chest

Felt my racing heart race faster as home drew near, more dear to me was my kittle sister’

S face pressed to the glass all afternoon.

Sky boded snow

Was was freshly over

When I had moxie

I looked down to my small muscular legs when they had power. Energy a small flag unfurled: I walked the train along the old tracks:

when there was still a world.


magnificent night shots of a jumbo jet crossing the face of the moon, wreathed in vapour trails; wide-angled pictures from the very pinnacle of the Millennium Dome; montages of Heathrow air traffic with planes blotting the sky.from Obituary for AlisdairMcDonald, journalist photographer




A London photojournalist capturing the damage of a storm in the residential district of Battersea, he fell flat to the pavement, his camera going off at random. The final frame: “Blurred, taken from a low angle, (obituary. . .)

No needle-pusher

A heart that’s heavy as a suitcase

And a piece of stale bread on the kitchen counter of your mind

Went into the kitchen to make some coffee butd reaction. She is a magical, imperious flying machine. She kills to live; she lives to kill

Her fiefdom resembles mine:

A storey above the brick building village

I have ben bed-bound half a year.

Hallelujah gospel singer under cover, hover below my window.

Mine is just a guest appearance on this earth:

In my storey-above I read of Odette Hallowes

At Ravensbruck.

My collaboration with sky, epiphany

Flooding the room I write in:

I slip out of my human skin

Into the promised land.





A peculiarly English childhood of beatings & disdain

Travel videos from the cab of the train upfront in blizzard.  Well done in Birmingham accent highest praise even when having the bone-saw doing the job. You fourteen years of age: beyond you only Birmingham: blackened brick, poor area gardens bowed with soot: the extreme was:

beat cancer below the knee amputation.




(For Nina, my hawk-mate) New Rochelle 1948—Exeter, Canada 2020 & on)


HAWK you are not stitched inside me like roses bleeding thru a quilted vest over heart:

But slower than breathing going from


Tomboy turned ethereal

At eighty

Slowly filming myself back into my body:

The one that ran, threw my head back like a pony, laughed

In shirts soft as green new baby moss.


Back in them, these are the arms

That lifted my baby sister

That caught tree branches tis wing up

My ninety-pound body at twelve.

Paralyzed next thing

Ethereal borne on a plinth

Tomboy in knee-worn bluejeans:

Only my windbreaker on a thin nail survived the one who played with fire

            stumblebum-child, turning upside down, somersaulting in the womb:

            while thru translucent flames

            I saw the untethered Jesse, the hooded rapt, flying free from the life I had flown from.HARD CHOICES what to bring, what LEAVE behind

Mine could be a story in a struggling mill & mining town.

A pipe fitter building an ark in a backyard

A len opens                   a shutter snaps:

A lens captures a world

Grainy texture or filmy as a gown.

Your unsung brilliance

I never stop rubbing together the stones of American poetry

The flow of kindness, river-like, unstoppable

            the halo of bees.




THOUGH YOU SLEPT in today  on an old horsehair mattress

On the back porch

the house sinking toward the evening side of the sky”—Ruth Stone

Picking pokeberries

In an old green smock

The scotch shimmers amber in the sun

Early winter

She is among the women mystics whose lives were worked by suffering.

From the time she wrote letters, she was always writing things down

She smelled the tree behind the book.

One house finch at a time

Darling darling this is a steeplechase

Around us life becomes surreal: a china plate is steel

Its reflections a cross  between spiritual & industrial.

Evangelical comes the rain: cold, hard, winter rain

Like nails pressing the whole image




Home has become a minefield:

A divorce ruptures here

A suicide there

Dirty Dick

Spotty Dick

It’s edgy:

Chips, open every right-angle in this painting:

Yes chips as they say, trench coat collars up, a smoke in left hand

Right one reaching out for the grab: as they say in Ireland.


“like how one recognizes beneath 

The lightbulb the chick nesting within an egg” Enrique Vilasis



Sail on, silver girl:

She was a line cook

A chamber maid

& she’s a bridge over troubled water

Which roil

We have different ways of shining.

It’s autumn

A nostalgia song from Amanda Ann Plath & “Desert Flowers”

Now she smokes, has a beer with her husband

“Look at me. I cut school at age 16. Now I’m married & have a house,”

Hold me say those words


She did nails while her children were small

Dare I ask her if I hold onto this  ring I bought myself against my lover’s will

(We need money for water-pipes, that type thing)

My royalties were small.

But my royalty.

Now my tomboy turned ethereal-voice feels rough

A grating in my chest

While she grates carrots for our slaw down the hall.

Does the line cook come back

Head thrown back in laughter that hurts?

Some portrait! 

In sweet-

What does the municipality in whose park we chat

Think of curtsy to mimosa &playing painters to shadows?grass celebration month.




I PICTURE HER SUITING UP, even downing up as a doctor

After all she has clocked in thirty years

As community health worker

But who would ask for a CHW by name?

I would.

I do.

“If I get sick who will take care of me?”

I would.

Her son? Her daughter? Still dorky but beautiful at twenty

Her son not hurting for money, a good saver.

Her hubby a contractor, foreman

Who would bring the tea to her side?

Now her hips hurt at times

Climbing stairs

Or bending.

“Trout & Coffee” with her I’d celebrate

While doctors calibrate

Fidgety at home

What can they do against this disaster

(My only sign of age, she tells me, is wink-wrinkles)

Suit up against home life

Or suit down

Gas cookers were known as ageless servants:

Thrown windbreaker on chair

Unbutton collars

Hug kids

Once they quarantine 

& self-isolate

Coming beaded out of the shower.





Holding onto my sense of humour Wirth a death-grip

I zip into my windbreaker

While apples roll over the kitchen floor

Huge autumn billiard ball

Before the lost.  / before the winter frost.



Or ange

Crushing thru autumn leaves

Washoard sky

Sunny whale ribs,

I think of an orange angel.

Maturity the hardest thing

Mica sheets separating

Like layers is bedding in a doll’s matchbox house.


Strike out near twilight;

All day I have pressed substance after substance to my cheek;

A Halloween stocking bought at the five and dime,…

When it is the plush of you cheek

I most want next to mine;

Gold angel

Mellow voice, alto, lank, length

Long as the time

Between noon and evening

Now that we own mature age like our names; gold angel, cigarette wrapping paper

When life was as long as a story a captured human told to save her life.



HERE COMES AN OLD city bus of sadness

Wide as the Missouri

A bucket of turned-down-suitors

A stash of tears

Swaying with a few passengers    so old it sag:

In lonely light

An Edward Hopper light.

The oldest woman in the back reminds me of Miss Macintosh my Darling.

She was born in Pace, Mississippi.

I remind myself of when young

When you offered me the little house, cottage type I never saw since a wheelchair would have trouble going there

(As we had trouble in all maneuvers, especially your two huge African Besenji dogs.)


It was end of day:

The black phone shook in its cradle like false teeth on Halloween

A death-rattle to your nerves 

“Why don’t they leave us alone?”

At last they did:

Me transferred to the rocking chair which was damned hard from my wheels

You tiny, coal black shiny bangs, pudding-0bowl haircut at fifty

Two old maids (my poems wet on the kitchen counter)

Two children lost in the woods

While the muffins burned (they always did, you had trouble with all things)

My typewriter, rented, before the iced-in Boulder, Colorado table in your house opposite the graveyard

The Flatiron mountains our archangels. Things stopped just like that, like the sun those nigthfalls at three p.m. We became two old chidlren neither of us able to tuck the other in. Dusted & Done.

NOW SHE LOOMS again on the skyline of American poetry

Listed in the catalogue of those who died from Alzheimers

From Arkansaas.

But actually she was from Mississippi.

Wrote the ekphrastic poem

The one on Giacometti


For its length

Imitating his bodies.


My helper

I see her pushing the iron bar

In icon-light of the alchemized bar.

I want to write an ekphrastic poem about her

Painterly woman

Those rounds

Of her body      those chunky hands that have helped healed

Or been unable to heal

Many bodies.

Schedules run her life. But the wheel of her heart

            gets stuck in a rut

            and the little one she is cries & cries when she finds a razor in her beautiful daughter’s diary.



RADIANT VICTORIAN SUN pours like varnish

Thru the fire-hazeYou a native, I a fresh immigrant

everything hurts while sun pours like rain


All but glass with antique dolls behind. Some blind.


Even over the dolls

Cabin fever abates.

I wait

Johnny Panic lies down

On a losing spree                       my oldest friend:

Keys credit card

I dread she will lose her life.


The red brick elementary school we went to together

Is now  a Jewish nursing home

Who remember our elementary school teachers?

We do  we came over on the Mayflower

To butterscotch seats at desks for sseatmates:

Carved out where the buttocks went

Whiny as lakes the chairs

The stairs used for bomb drills.


Our playground thrills

Were toned town:                      peak fear calms down: the movie with tag lines:

            God came to town to take one

            of us. Polio .Too late for tracheotomy in ambulance

            too late for iron lung.


This radiant day pales, darkened:

Yom Kippur

Sun sets over the iron. The lungs breathe out in, revelation in reverse: butterflies disappearing.


41SPARROWS SINGING DURING shutdown, I am one

Hearing the silence of the rained-on stone.


My favorite community health worker:

She belongs in a tumbledown bar

Leaning forward

Straddling a bench

Smoking l

With that one gold bead driven int] the center of her tongue.

Catchlight to her personali


War returns:

Despair’s strange peaks:

Child of war:

Then of ward

            —that parish whose prayer         was mischief, that of misery: not tree climbing but building:

Bed-heads we were: bald spots:  

pudding basin haircut

            signature of the forties.  My poor abandoned little peacetime court: the home.


I AM NOT THE BOMB but the bombed-out

We have rabbits. A war is on & one of the rabbits is with child.

When shortages kick in

Rabbit blanc mange will be savoured.

Celibacy was the order of the day

A thing our mother declared on her deathbed

Domestic rabbit clubs were spring up across UK

“Lovegrove’s” will only2323stock products available during the war.

Supplies of cardboard cartons

& Anderson shelters were  


My collaboration with sky, epiphany

Flooding the room I wrote in:

I slipped out of my human skin

Into that indescribable creature: girl of twelve on the cusp, wet bangs from a forbidden lakeside dip near the railroad yard abandoned.


In my dreams,

I lasso a wild steer on the first try.

I chauffeur Picasso

To meet up with Dali—

None of us is happy about this summit.





The unstoppable courage of lovey.

In bomber-jacket I float down.




HARDEST BY HARDEST (for Danielle Ofri, M.D.)


We drive on.

Your cruelest test as doctor,

My toughest                              as survivor of paralysis before vaccine.

 sterling example of her in the log-ago town of our childhood

Running her home from an iron long.

The mirror her morning herald minister of mercy.  When world narrowed in.

For me it is a bather once a line cook, then chambermaid opens the portal

To let sea-light in;

a bathe, laugh, head thrown back which moves boulders as though twigs they were twigs

 compassion’s bride, 

I have husbanded courage

As I must tomboy turned ethereal eighty year old woman

In North, in  Christ’s snow & rain.





I wear a marriage ring

Cycling hours of pain.

Where is anodyne

Arthur spurred his legends

I drive my spurs in

Mighty pain neighs


Salvation comes in childhood games

Till ring around ecstasy


All small down

Dusted and done.



PLEASE come visit me

With the speed call numbers were whisked

Down vacuum miraculously

In grade scool library.

Nothing magical about it

Any more than it is imperative noe at eight

I must lay my head upon my sweltered elbow and cry

O my poor people

Rationed to austerity a whittled branch of wills

I am become your ethereal tomboy..





A boy & his father run for their lives

Taking refuge among trees 

the mother has thrown them out

soldiers march

As thru a dream

In winter the boy’s mother dies.

There’s is a Brokeback age


Stand up & keep the peace:

Take the love

In your own hands.

Will it deepen wounds

If your whole life had not become the boy of snow

Although so slow

The drift it becomes

No shallow thing           but holy as wren in her den, fox in her hollow.

THE LESS OF SELF the better

The bedroom door neighs like a horse

There is a scent, undefinable, magnetic like honey  suckle

I follow it

Hoping not to be hit

By a haven with way to exit the wound. The dream of ever getting well, all the way?


One finds another territory despite all travel forbidden by limited mobility:

Under bruised skies,

Over bruge-tinted, rouge things: the less self, the better. Put on your butterscotch sweater.

where is the object which throws the shade: where the broom to sweep up endless childhood afternoons?

In my child-mind an uptown cloud over that town in Belgium of 



OUR BROOM CLOSET is purple with shadows

One white swan feather floats free

Like a pebble sinking in a water glass.

You come close to kissing me.

The feather duster flops & isn’t that a mouse tails scoops between workbooks and mops

While night begins to fill the brooms

With dustpan.

And dreams


Like a prized marble with twists

Or barber shop pole

And I am filled with you like a glass greenhouse with light

As winter slams its pewter lid over our town; I like down:

Masked bereft as  mare in cobbled court

All hallows coming on.

            One feather floats free: you come close to kissing me.



THE LESS OF SELF the better

The bedroom door neighs like a horse

There is a scent, undefinable, magnetic like honey  suckle

I follow it

Hoping not to be hit

By a haven with way to exit the wound. The dream of ever getting well, all the way? the less of self, the better. Put on your chamoi sweater.


One finds another territory despite all travel forbidden by limited mobility:

Under bruised skies,

Over bruge-tinted, rouge things:

where is the object which throws the shade: where the broom to sweep up endless childhood afternoons?

In my child-mind an uptown cloud over that town in Belgium of which I dream: as the bee-keeper tends her bees: to produce honey without harm.WINDPIPE, tracheotomy, transom

That shuttle against the lead


Could be an owl.

I will surprise you:

Beyond the treatment room dwells an owl

Sliced long the bare trees what is that thing?

Your thin voice above the radiation room.

It hovers

Then floats away

Only the chimney lets out a purple flight of smoke

Like Icarus

Feathers dissolving

Because he flew too near,

He dared the hope

Harrowing at first

At last


All but boy body slow-motion

Filmically from from the sun.


HOPE IS LIKE an old gate into a tea garden


Its leaves have a fragrance

Like the slight pain, that of a bird pressing, passing against your forehead on diagnosis.


Diaphagms with stencil marks

O you are no surprise to me

Worrisome thing

I would bat


If it weren’t for the fact your softness touches my hand like chamois cloth

Like the first kiss

Inside the tea garden given, taken.

NO WHITE DRUG for my pain

Besides, in those days.  . .

& dope up children too much.


I was, anyway, driven out fo myself by the wiled horses of paralysis

Sudden as a penny

Dropping in a well:


The water-rings

Wre thoseniight nurses

Revolving like planets at the Planetarium


Day nurses never shone:

No radiation

Could illumine them.


I wanted to see my next birthday

But maybe I’d done enough growing.

Though I felt I’d had a mere pinch worth of light since daybreak.



I know that I am bruisable, plummeting

The nurse who is my step mohter

Her eyes search mine.

She cannot name

What I have:

My parents have commanded this lest I visualize what often happens to chidlren who contract this virus.

I do not know it is a virus.

I have counted a thoug=sand shadows from night to dawn:

One the chair holding my new hospital gown

Stiff, starched.


She is pregnant as well.

While she exchanges the crumpled night gown for the waxen fresh one

I want to touch her rounding Elly

But it hardly shows

Though there is a heartbeat within all that water pemenet

            bruisable, pulsing, plummeting.


ALL THE GRAINY FACES from old photographs

Come up to me

While filmically my old psychiatric navy nurse, a real tough

Knows they need some muscle some muscles in the ward

I try, not cry, not shoutingly but with a steady voice

To ask my question one more time:

“What have I got? Will I die?”
neither received a clear answer.


I hanker for clarity

As once I climbed that treen

All gnarly bent

While I went

Straight as a whistle up up up to sky

While some driver passing must fear I’d die

In a fall breking my neck the way this waiting breaks my heart: all the faces around moving grainy in an old photograph

While in pristine clarity outside my window stands the cenotaph

For all the children who have preceded me in death.



Inside my long-boned twelve—year old body

Are volcanoes erupting, min nature, fierce

& there are estuaries

But where can the reality run off

The only place I know

Is the turnover


Of poetry:


Childhood being rubbed out by acid, by ashes

While now I learn

To stand again

On a wooden contraption

Called tilt table

As the fury of autumn

Maps inside outside my window



IS MY TESTAMENT scratched into a water-barrell?

What would I do in the silence that rests

After you have  gone

Like the silence of my dolls. . .O 






3 - Afterword

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