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  Lynn Strongin


(for Aracelis)

“Altar of Heaven”

(poems inspired by Jennifer Compton “For the Talking Statues”

translate: Marforio in Via del Campidoglio and the Babuino in Via de Babuino

And variations on Jennifer Compton’s “Talking Statues”
Russians at the Estonian embassy in Moscow today protested the removal of a Soviet commemorative statue last night from downtown Tallinn, Estonia.

© Lynn Strongin
for “Poetry Kit”
Liverpool. U.K. Spring 2007
Free of his wheelchair and tethered only to heart rate and blood pressure monitors, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking on Thursday fulfilled a dream of floating weightless on a zero-gravity jet, a step he hopes will lead to further space adventures.(New York Times. April 27, 2007)



I let them down

Like smokestacks lowered to let clouds pass


Like grain evaluators toppled

Like a shower of falling stars.


My family

By visiting, because paralyzed



In quicksandI could not travel. They rebuffed me. I let them down.

This, the test of love:

I failed.


Carry coals to Newcastle.

        I’ll fly when hell freezes over. Meantime, statues speak.




They let me down

From carrying me


Springing a trampoline, soil pushing earth back

To my lifting & carrying them


Portage with a smile

For a life time.


More ether

More ozone


I’d too have a name like Hawking:

A girl gone hawking


Not newspapers

But wind


Gathered under my wings

Not like those senzatetto


The homeless in Rome

Without roofs, aerials


Denied freedom of speech.

Yet cobbler Pasquino wrote fun-poking comments


Attached to a rough chunk of marble his his shop.

His statue was used as a stepping stone


In muddy, cart-rutted medieval streets until 1501.




So this body, tethered, which lets me down & lets them down

Begins to talk in flight


To conduct dialogues

Above Italia which loves the handsome, the svelte


Which makes art out of


Like a grandmother’s cape

It could work. It could be elegant



So don’t say no to me.


Mother told my earliest sitters,

“don’t say no to my daughter.”


They didn’t.

Only gravity


Pulled me down like mercury

Till I built places

I could not up to


Our of dire need


Or lease alive as “lightning” fly.




And the loved God so longed to give God (Jennifer Compton”

I would weep for flight

But colorless air


A destination

Above, around,


Totally off the atlas

Defying radar


“I really wanted to go”

but what a morning up north for “The History of Art Through the Ages.”


These are the ages

& I’m not getting thru:


O leper of St Giles

My brain’s in overdrive

After the burn of the funeral

Dying to spring up & out again.


O Altar of heaven.




        “Death Cab For Cutie sings Crooked Teeth (Jennifer Compton part# 6)

I know these people & will kneel at their feet soon




Watching tourists carrying valise filled with sorrow:

Newspapers a year old.


This is a replay.

Silent. Drowned.


A biffo is a shiner:

A black eye. Can an angel get one


Flying between world & world

Nothing appearing on the shoulder?

I grow older.

Do not look down. Scrap looking down. Madonnas look down. Contrite girl look down.


“Enough is as good as a feast.”

So is too little:


It rings bells,

Sirens on red trucks shrike thru streets:


I have hungered all the years

& not been invited to the feast.




Language Immersion

Can drown one, waters lapping over lips like kissing


Over chin

& skullbone


the shape

lovely as a statue              sinking.


My profound fear as a girl

Was that life would become paralyzed


Like me

Time stand still

        A beggar halted in my doorway

        Hand stretched out with cup, him blind & me no money to give or see.




“The salt and sugar, the lilt and swing / of the other” (Jennifer Compton part #8)


Roma’s weather is

Litmus paper


Picks up the mood

Of the other


What would life be

Without salt & sugar?


Sheets of paper

Fly off like sheets from the washline.


John Playford was clever enough to collect the signal

Of other music:


The Signal

Everywhere music takes you.



Spark Studio


“It is not in my heart to be glad”

I observe I stand on a place of content.


I lift this heart out of y chest

Reaching under the vest


Embroidering with roses

The flow of blood


So apt:

The tassel Italian trump

Ragazzi bare chested boys.


Hip hopping.

The string


Of joy



In them from toe to chin.



Air is tinder

Is winter:

We need it to burn





Hummel not a real star today but a competitor of Beethoven.

I no longer crack blue eggbox open with a spoon


Things too green

I wear black glasses to the razzle-dazzle of them.


Free of his wheelchair and tethered only to heart rate and blood pressure monitors, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking on Thursday fulfilled a dream of floating weightless on a zero-gravity jet, a step he hopes will lead to further space adventures.
Unable to talk or move his hands and legs, Hawking can only make tiny facial expressions using the muscles around his eyes, eyebrows, cheek and mouth. He uses a computer attached to his
wheelchair to talk for him in a synthesized voice by choosing words on a computer screen through an infrared sensor on a headpiece that detects motion in his cheek.



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