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Lynn Strongin


We Interrupt This Program

(rain & snow blowing like lit numerals)
to tell you the news:
Ladies & Gentlemen:      we make mention that Mavourneen our “Fragile X”*
baby is making some progress

Still seems of another Century
in huge billowing baby gowns

But despite her disability, retardation, she’s got a high enough sense of Ceremony
not to have a
during her brother’s Baptism.

Tilting toward the Father’s holy waters
in hallucinatory fascination

She struggles to make human sounds but sounds like a small trapped animal.
She catches the eyes of all
which are pinned like an edict of salvation on the baby.

Her daddy pins all his hopes on her:
while all her thoughts are piled, precarious toys in a pyramid
of colored cubes which begins to topple

the apple-red    & whittle-white wood pooling
blue circles:
John the Baptist’s head was brought in on a platter.
Not dainty
or nice as ice on lace.

But she holds her flock high in milky air
enjoying the corduroy sound her dress is making
against her plump thighs during their Baptism

like her track suit.
“She wants to be shy again,” her brother begins to explain to the Priest who nods, he understands.
Soon she’ll be back home spanking her orange jello till the pile shimmers

like taffeta
like an icon
of neon.
       Her mother remembers the morning she was delivered
       invisible God-prints all over her
       like the cellophane, lime green, wrapping one dozen American beauty roses translucent, thorned.

This is KOA, Kansas This show is brought to you by "Cornhusker's Lotion." We
now return to our scheduled program:
       You can resume your evening’s occupation:
              reading, ironing.

*  Fragile X syndrome is the most common genetic form of mental retardation



At Season’s End, sleep is all

after the children

after the people seen off
(& in)
in the quiet of a little mill & mining town

hear weathers shift gears:
Leather stick-shift:

hear tht high hum
almost beyond human

which puts the red-alert on:

logs & sawmills
wood dust drifting                    everywhere
And this is only the beginning of the onslaught:                   to blind




All the world is a dome of lit burnt copper
Yet the nuance is water.      Bright when sun hits it as cracked sugar.

Women & children wear borrowed finery, lampshades for hats & they
taste ash cakes white-clay like Civil War Soldiers.

A circle-saw takes a white disc from sky.
Pavement teeth cutting           in the land of the best sideshow
the fast greenback flashing, America, the brave:

Lickety-Split.              Knock down all nine pines

Nerve squall
like the scare when kids get wired

can’t come down:       you can almost see the filament glowing. You can see
       the wired thread in their bones.


Lynn Strongin is an American poet living in Canada. She has published seven books of poetry, and appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, most recently in the award-winning Visiting Emily: Poems Inspired by the Life & Work of Emily Dickinson. In Spring 2006 the University of Iowa Press will publish her anthology The Sorrow Psalms: A Book of Twentieth Century Elegy.
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