“When He Says You Never Write Any Good Poems About Me” by Lyn Lifshin

Lyn Lifshin


I think by “good” he means “sexy.” Poems
about stopping on back roads in the car with
a bigger front seat, not even waiting for
a road off a road but pulling velvet and denim
off like roast skin from a turkey. I don’t tell
him, maybe I should but the poems dripping
love juice and pubic hair were written when
I wasn’t getting any. A virgin after eight years,

my mind was never not on erotic movies in
my head where even the music was the in and
out of bodies. I had time in the raised ranch
to dream a man would emerge from the trees,
fantasize slow afternoons behind chiffon drapes
in the bed of white silk until it ripped. Years my
arms ached for more than the tiger cats and
the buff kitten. If a man wrote me from some

coast I opened on paper to him, came on to
strangers and convicts on the page. Those sheets
always felt safe enough to let them know their
words got me wet, even my hair was horny. I
wrote about what wasn’t there, what left a hole
I was terrified I’d drown in. “Writing like a hippie
but living like a nun,” a magazine quoted me
and probably I said it. It was the way those in

the concentration camp talked of food, of seeing
light, the moon, were famished for the smell of
bread. Fantasized chicken, apples, beef, all the things
they’d never thought much about when they had
more than they could devour as, baby, I do now.

from Rattle #15, Summer 2001
Tribute to the Underground Press


Lyn Lifshin: “Poetry and ballet are like breathing to me. These are my main obsessions, along with Abyssinian cats, velvet, blues, the sound of geese in blackness, raspberry coffee, roses, stained glass and colored beads. My happy time comes from reading short stories on the metro returning from ballet lessons.” (web)

Rattle Logo