Lyn Lifshin

Lyn Lifshin is the author of  Another Woman Who Looks Like Me, published by Black Sparrow at David Godine in 2006. Also out in 2006 is her prize winning book about the famous, short lived beautiful race horse, Ruffian: The Licorice Daughter: My Year with Ruffian from Texas Review Press. Lifshin’s other recent books include Before it’s Light published winter 1999-2000 by Black Sparrow press, following their publication of Cold Comfort in 1997 and 92 Rapple from Coatism.: Lost in the Fog and Barbaro: Beyond Brokenesss and Light at the End, the Jesus Poems, Katrina, Ballet Madonnas. Persephone was published by Red Hen and Texas Review published Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness. Most recent books: Ballroom (March Street Press), All the Poets (Mostly) Who Have Touched me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially the Lies. And just out, Knife Edge Absinthe: The Tango Poems. In Spring 2012, NYQ books will publish A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also coming For the Roses poems after Joni Mitchell. For other books, bio, photographs see her web site::


More Red Shoes

Haven’t you wanted to
put them on and have
everything that holds
on to you dissolve in
the rearview mirror?
Don’t you want to be
flame? Be inflamed?
Haven’t you wanted to
dance with a newspaper
that morphs into a man?
Maybe you wanted to
just get up from a pasta
dinner, walk backwards
to get a last look at the
room and plunge into
the weird reality of the
Red Shoes film? The
guavas and rouge tints
of Paris, Monte Carlo,
London mist and be
back in the forties when
everyone wore chic
clothes and were perfectly
mannered. But you knew
something smoldered
behind the veil of their
faces and you knew you
were stepping inside a
fairy tale where you won’t
even think of that small
dining room you left with
canned peaches and a
clean napkin. You are
moth, Lorelei at once,
hypnotized, hypnotizing.
The eyes glued to you
once those red shoes
you slide into (easy
as adultery) glue them
selves to your blood,
become your blood as
you leap, smoke from
what is too hot to touch.


Bad Dream # 279, June 22

I go back to Vermont, to Middlebury.
It’s been a while, another life time?
And the uncles, the dead ones hover
in shadows, ghostly, their lips and
cheek bones on faces that some
how aren’t there but then, nothing is
as it was. The beautiful bookstore
with the flat above it where I dreamed
in my lavender back bedroom of
starring on Broadway or writing a book,
now looks like collapsing bricks about
to be bull dozed. This can’t be. There’s
no bookstore, no sign there’s ever
been one. The bricks shift, the building
looks like something too dangerous
to enter after a hurricane, a house of
tooth picks one small breath could
make fall down. Even Main Street, a
perfect New England small town
where Life magazine came to photo
graph this perfect calendar frame, the
red and green lights strung for Christmas,
children on sleds and of course the traffic
police who checked out every boy who
came to pick me up for a date my
mother would wait up for me from.
Have I been comatose a hundred years?
Where is the town I knew? What could
be left but mice and droppings in the
mostly abandoned street. Drug vials litter
the street instead of flower boxes and
geranium. When did the town become
a slum, a torn blighted disaster? The
only color is grey. It’s as if the mortar,
whatever held all that mattered together
dissolved. A heart beat. Just the touch
of one brick and everything I thought I
could keep will crumble.

3 thoughts on “Lyn Lifshin”

  1. Well, that “Red Shoes” piece just makes me know I have to have a pair, even if I’ve never been a high heels kind of girl. Wonderful imagery. I loved it.

  2. Lyn, so good to see your name and read your work again. We used to publish your poems years ago in the Berkeley Poets Coop and I remember reading those packets of good poems from you that came and came. You have an engine burning in you, for sure, and these poems are still on fire. Especially love the central images and the language in the Bad Dream poem. Thanks.

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