YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

August 2008

VOL XVI, Issue 8, Number 184


Editor: Klaus J. Gerken

Production Editor: Heather Ferguson

European Editor: Mois Benarroch

Contributing Editors: Michael Collings; Jack R. Wesdorp; Oswald Le Winter

Previous Associate Editors: Igal Koshevoy; Evan Light; Pedro Sena

ISSN 1480-6401


TABLE OF CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION

   The Swing Set Poems
   
   by 
   
   Lynn Strongin

   Prelude

   The next song will be called Anniversary Ashes

CONTENTS

   Blessings on your kepi (Yiddish: blessings on your head)
   Hope
   Coming Home  Alone after Dark
   It's the 3 a.m. of the year
   Silk (or Keeping our love alive)
   Counters
   Day has bent, burnt margins
   When
   
   Part Two           
   
   Honoraria
   
   Photographs for a summer Day
   "H"
   Brimful of Story
      Silent
   We speak in sign language.
   Lilac Festival
   In October
   "Having way too much fun"
   Poetry on Poles
   Candy wrapper
   Not the soul of buttery July
   Nothing lulls you into sleep, insomniac since diagnosis
      Who slept like a baby.
   you thought they knew your name
   A woman flings a body her body on her grave
   A ghost comes from a boy in the mail
   
   Part III
   
   Outed for Wearing Black

   Coda
   This puny ghost, midsummer, shrinks in white sheet two hole-eyes doesn't care me:
   I rise to my Goliath, summer
   Aunt Glo & Nikki
   Polio scratched a lot beneath the surface
   Outed for Wearing Black?
   Leave the young thing alone
   Slow Dance

POST SCRIPTUM

   Silker, it's a slippery slope to slide

All Poems copyright (c) 2008 Lynn Strongin


INTRODUCTION



THE SWING SET POEMS

by 

Lynn Strongin


Prelude
~~~~~~~

The next song will be called Anniversary Ashes
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I did not rob the cradle. She found me
With dark eyes
Skating over jewellery:
Earlier
Over cake glaze.
The next tune will be. . .quartet-played
Dancing on the deck of the Titanic
Swirling in satin kimono
Combination of gray & mulberry-coloured silk.
I just remembered you leave tomorrow for Japan
Robbie is healing?
Dreaming of her two anti-gravity chairs
A mind space of silver
Being pulled down
The razor
Sheet lightning, freaked out:
Theatrically launched into selling jewels
But being weighted
She was a scary child
Never bought the idea of doll as girl child
Scotch-Irish
Like beloved Ben
No porcelain ancestors:
Confident, a bookworm
Like most of her friends   she is a black star of memory
She never took a break for tea, finger sandwiches, a show
By gravity
By love
By the grave the tug of
Buxom, drawn down by
Burden.
 



I am the bread of life

Blessings on your kepi (Yiddish: blessings on your head)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You wore a backpack when you took me out to dinner
& Black. Always black.

You are a caution.
(The water from the faucet has curvature of the spine.)

"Hi there, baby doll," aunt will say tomorrow
Her husband says today "Blessings on your kepi."

Blessings on yours & mine.

Blessings on my kepi.
What if childhood abuse has spread, a raspberry strain

What if you cannot tell your family certain things?
There is a darker side to whimsy:

Finding the good part is hard
With this sombre underpinning.

But you carry brightness into everything:
a sense of well being, pizzazz and an ability to carry out daily tasks without exhaustion or pain _ such effects can be hard to document.

Apple chancery

I can make you mine

With a bang on a window
You're outside, regal. Decorum

Even for a mermaid your hair would be a cascade
Above the crowed, I dream streamers in your hair for the fourth of July
     You'd dumb rainbows down.


Hope ~~~~ Aunt Glory Be was delayed at Bob Hope airport. Summer is viral, a contagion. She has high fever, is eighty. Spikes like her hiked shoulder in fur fifty years ago. 103 degrees. The last relative in the world dear to me in silk mulberry bloodlines. Nor is Anne terribly well: she has gouged her head again, over 70 still Suffering multiply personalities. Layers of heat sheathe a tree. And what of Robbie? At her sleekest raven best At her buttery best, "You look radiant." "That's the clue I'm ill. My mother told me I always did when I was ill as a child." Lustrous curls. Leaves turn, a fly buzzes in the bath, and I wear a cape of blue tweed. Older woman. I cannot calm down. This is not blood this is longing: Summer proceeds like a dead army Troops, infantry still on boo- feet but sleepwalking beaten by a white whip Into "Obey!". I lift the hopper of the phone, seize the day Against summers fire in the groin, heat in the sky, greifs & flickering contagions.
Coming Home Alone after Dark ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ To chocolate bible, committed to memory. This is not mock joy. This is joy despite Cancer appointments eating up your day off The whale Gulping Jonah's life To the lees of the lungs. Shrug into black coat enter with pure heart Is it time to start saying the long goodbyes? Je vous embrace tendrement. When the Tiburons no longer like the folk on the lane They consider a move South Where the light bill will drop down like fever in a plumb line. Bought the book "My Sister, My Love." As rings circle Saturn So fears The innocent up against freak cells. The slaughter of the Innocents. I put "Chocolaterie" on the wall. I am pale. Antipodal: Antiphonal this is The new sweet Bible.
It's the 3 a.m. of the year ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The two little Chinese boys play with dad while mum works at Pharmasave. Wei. The five year old does homework: adding numbers she wrote on paper The younger She gave colouring book and crayons. His crown. You hum St James Infirmary swinging home past cancer cafes in your mind Chiming time Wearing London Fog, you stride home, collar upturned, Irish complexion. Your hymn. You walk past jewellers The purple ring "pure confection" our birthstone amethyst I gave you, the ring The shard of amethyst round your neck The fear bird in your heart stretching, testing its soot-coloured wings.
Silk (or Keeping our love alive) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ God forbid our evenings drift into monotony, like waves, or soldiers Keep us two happy campers, yelling `I prefer summer! I prefer winter!" We bust out a game: Counters are glass buttons. Meanwhile, another log t=on the fire Robbie "I'm a hedgehog" she says, broad shoulders shaking with laughter coal hair rippling passing the mannequins in the hat shop the dummies at one a .m. home from Nevada where she went as rep "It's quite the place." Home is some sort of candy box town Unwrapped Silver foil: each Victoria cream A different ward. Her mother's bipolar. Her sister thin-skinned. I'm a hedgehog. I haven't told them:"
Counters ~~~~~~~~ Small glass discs. Rose & teal. I run them thru my hand like water. Robbie would love If they had cheer leaders and prom queens when she was in high school, I can't imagine her wanting to be among them though she is them. My girl, a flipflop on each yellow tee shirt breast Comes along the street, head bent, unwhistling. Catholic Spider bit her Her taste buds died. We pull out games: pieces fall. "These counters are contrary. See, they can roll under chairs, people lose them. Dogs swallow them." Who wants money? Dogs won't eat it. She struggles to make adhere four small rubber feet. "Maybe they swell in the heat Like feet." "I will write the game people a letter," she says. They say love gives wings. I fly over the valley Thru the alley Into the heat wave Warmed by caffeine fuel Over boostores The city's monorail roar Beyond the mudflats to Robbie. Any good thing sings.
Day has bent, burnt margins ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Glass can curve. I read my letters under the glass. Keep me in loop, love, my secret love. I drive my engine & caboose I spend my life trying to keep you happy Disconsolate. Here comes icicle Creek With the softest plush rose down cheek A real plus But rare humor: A true minus. Deep voice A homerun & then silken. The moustache of an adolescent boy Huge heartache & heartthrob: woman gardener up to no good What God created her? My best wish My heart's dish Mother said "Tears before a goy" Yet she is to me Purity Itself In deep disguise A voice that comes up from the grave O my love. I bend myself out of shape driving to encourage her gay Streak. Freak thunderheads peak. A tall woman. I am small, peppery, gung-ho yet know with her In a lifelong song swap Even joy: The hidden magical life of Toy Beyond destroy.
When ~~~~ When I have fallen like a ton of bricks Like a house on fire Like a shower of sparks. If you should really be six steps from death the crown of life now would tarnish: I would have a meltdown.
Part Two Honoraria Photographs for a summer Day ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ (The Wonder of it All The Tudor of it all) "H" ~~~ Green blue, and ward white emulsions lift. Home from hospital, photographs of a milky summer day when I am twelve years old A girl Dancing on her own grave: I shift frames. I save the jackets But remove the flawed Emulsions. So many ruined colours I cover mouth with child hand. In the footlights 0Behind amplified silence, my ears burn: The stethoscopes turned up. I am paralyzed, a new situation. Far from Flushing, Queens We brownstone winter In a castle in Manhattan. Bashful, my sister brushes a lock from her eye.
Brimful of story Silent ~~~~~~ I. We speak in sign language. My own true love, ma mariee Tie her hands and she could not speak. Even with them, there is a shy grouse-in-bush difficulty. Every footstep. Oui, Fifty years later, my lover of thirty-three years, Honoraria Here you come home. Homilies, honest, haunting The wonder of it all. One-door, the two-door: The Tudor village. Angels are asexual our marriage virginal as vestal virgin oil: So we move elbows for wings thru summer air. There is a Yankee Candle sale. A frosty Détente. Her comes Honoraria Nun None of this None of that Green plastic milk basket is a statement Rolled up blueprints Flowcharts Robbie, I'd given you the blueprints To a chocolate factory Your jet hair belies the firework vase a few inches inside detonate.
Lilac Festival ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Glistens butter bumblebees Sun blond boys Ice cream lips Girls in jerseys: After the2nd cat scan you rise Add to boiling water coffee The scent spreading Like news of release, remission Across a lake where a tree falls suddenly And a bird takes off at gun: Habit of loving, Ben's hand pouring, light on blond knuckle-hairs. Ecstasy is come.
In October ~~~~~~~~~~ You will fully awake to dark overtures, the wild card Star-nosed moles Destiny. I'd give a king's ransom not to have this happen. Printed out in Apple Chancery. Nothing ad-libbed now A red maple Solitary Like that marble headstone the night guard watched over Even when sleep threatens Like spider webs a cracked windshield Scattered with asterisk prints of almonds & acorns fallen cold so soon only yesterday agleam.
"Having way too much fun" ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ After managing a chocolate shop, now a jewellery. Now the bush is filled with wasps Not Bees. A sombre array. Now the whole window full of sails Is nearly Nest-empty. In your night garden You carry A tray of popsicles. After the surgery, you planned one colour A day. No Theresa melting in ecstasy You look at the goldfinch strung out with heat Trees: serviceberries. The popsicles are bleached. And you are running toward god on empty.
Poetry on Poles ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Lover do you wear white because you've been raped & want to become invisible? Robbie, do you wear bights because you are a tart At heart But a swept Applecart Tart? Poetry on poles. You don't want to end wrapped around one So you come undone Quietly in night As Ben unpins your long black hair Now in bleakness Now striding out Pioneer woman without bonnet going against into full sun. In summer living is not easy. Hoarfrost ignites in sun. The light is precise like crust of frost on ice: If love comes. Bandbox, Fatalist, I come.
Candy wrapper ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ i. Particularly noticeable during romantic scenes on screen. A river of stars flows above you But death below? The siege Is slow To swing into motion like an ancient pair of playground swings, chains rusting All these years unnoticed. Now, an abandoned theme park like in a Japanese animee film: Disease re-activated. An Arctic midsummer. The angelic beauty of the prepubescent male voice in Nordic August. A typesetter's divorce drags on An assistant's computer gets sick The pipe fitter of heaven Is in the thick Of change. Who would be a child-counter? Bean counters are another thing Like crucified rabbit in a kids' book. ii. My niece must make her curtain call to cutting: One final swish of the blade Filmed. A grad project. I have loved the darks & brights. Now blight. Robbie rises to birdsong of brand new day, old, dark already, gnarled as clay. Basically, no one wants to do much But dream of snow The Polar Bear Robbie installed at the jeweler's Wears diamond tiara Her next fantasy trip will be up to Churchill, Manitoba. We have come to this now: no row But loud birds. Summer the epicenter of sorrow. On the lip of winter, autumn On the lip of autumn Summer Dusty magnolia: & a wife dreaming she is St Francis delighting the cedar wax wing who lights up. Cupped hands, Francis of Assisi had a theory: Take from the full, fill the empty, Peonies are your grandmother's favorite. She is gone. Present are Egon & John, new trees unfruited last year Fruitng: Wooden pears. Sweetheart tells me you can make the beverage "Peary" from them. A fairly alights On my desk. Who studies to polish a gun? Gladiolas bronze. You drive to Langford. There are no new messages on the server The West Shore community of Langford on the southern tip of Vancouver Island is named after Edward Langford, a respected regional farm operator in the mid 1800s. Unlike you, buxom, Bloxom: Late spring is stretched out in her glass lilac coffin, her lips still warm You picture Arctic Fox, footsteps in snow In the cancer clinic Reducing blue diamonds into one silver crystal gem, blue with glow, now exploding in a mine.
Not the soul of buttery July ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ You rise in November's carob satin destiny Its glories. Tall to the sky-high ceiling with Ben. What now? What then? Managerial, you tick off appointments like flicking ladybugs off your black caftan. In love, there is invariably ambivalence Some sort of betrayal or other is always going on. It fertilizes the garden. Tailored on the mantel of my mind A hymn Outside the nursing home Is a pond, a poem on the bus is what you have always wanted to be? A bus No a train A freight rain? A boxcar? No, the Freedom train A Cake-train Carrying a multitude of passengers red-cheeked, some bottle in hand, waving: Bursting like the old woman who lived in a shoe *& had so many children she didn't know what to do: Clamoring like gospel babies wriggling out of church Searching for quince jam. The Great I am. Take your waves back water, your boxful of ashes, gravestone. Asters rise thru brick. It is spring.
Nothing lulls you into sleep, insomniac since diagnosis Who slept like a baby. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ You are a pinwheel on a birthday cake you can't stop. Wind milling Both arms to me on the street from the window of the goldsmith shop. Watches are upstairs in the hot garret Down the staircase you frequently descend like princess making an entrance There is much excitement about the new European watchmaker: Keeping time like sun above ocean, at the heated top. Settled, you cannot stay silent: Life is no chapel. You drink Snapple You think of Chancery Apple Print Outrunning your grief, the crap, of cancer-trip-after trip From midsummer afternoon the hammock, holding you who have never been secure, a child, in late nap noon.
you thought they knew your name ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ But this is not your name. It's syllables & consonants are not the same. Chiffon would be your fabric, not the asexual white hospital gown they sleep you into Under a summer sky you cannot remember the like or number of gingersnaps under a perfect buttered hoop of July full moon.
A woman flings a body her body on her grave ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ That is melodrama. This afternoon the sky is dun The sky has Melanoma. Now Alive. "They all came up," the flowers on a dress. This is midsummer The game cannot be suddenly over A frost-paper memory A kiss & its consequent bliss.
A ghost comes from a boy in the mail ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ An advertisement for "Photography Today.' You prefer a whistle In a thunderstorm the hay hears music Loud train rattling Tracks following miles & miles switching circuit like an indicted name.
Part III OUTED FOR WEARING BLACK Summer has come to my door ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Once more wreathed in bees & lilac colours: I will not fight, nor will I invite it back once more. June brought ovarian cancer for Chase July cervical cancer for Robbie. Heat, take back your bouquet Doorway. Summer late childhood was sombre burnt glass: I do not come home to a prison concrete house, but a brick cottage covered with roses like a rash that stabs. Thirst coast-to-coast Carbon in the air I wear a willow-weave black shirt, partially bamboo. What gives? From my stepmother Who knows a thing or two: Unwinding like a winding sheet To reveal The lover's passionate body Denied, detailed, like a photograph of a child at the end of the nineteenth century When sickbeds were held like candles to the sun One knelt before them.
Coda ~~~~ The tail has a tail The tale curves round. Small, humorous looking birds call attention to themselves Shafted, precise as under glass. Like scenery viewed from a too-slowly moving freight train Across Nebraska, Kansas. Iowa corn elephant=eye high:: The wheats Alfalfa grass blowing A chaff cloud Like mushrooms That thick Never-ending Wonder: one-door, two door homes of brick. The Tudor buildings fall off into oblivion.
This puny ghost, midsummer, shrinks in white sheet two hole-eyes doesn't care me: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Shrikes strike Vacations are not always what they might be: I've tied my yellow ribbon Will Robbie lose her glossy Chestnut curls? Chemo can do this. Radiation burns. Writes she: Black, always black. I hide me large body in the forbidden colour (non-colour technically). All of my colour I wear in my eyes and face. As a little person I was told that my sister could get by on her looks and I would get with my personality My grandfather (Grandgeorge) said that some day the boys would grow up and really see my beauty I covered myself up in black so people would be forced to see my personality which lives in my face. And now I have been found out. Outed as a black wearer. The bike gloves fit me perfectly: The bee fits the glass. But anger will not pass: coal is in the night: boxcars carry clay: Does buzz: this is what the burn does: then slips silence. The saw is what the lover saw, then locked both lips.
I rise to my Goliath, summer ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ i. You glide away, woman I live with, all flags furled, having Hacked bamboo & shrub. I struggle with July, knowing August will lead final infantry into triumph, autumn is a given: not the grave. ii. The lede Are the opening words in a new story: Once upon a time printed in lead. David, now, small Davide I try coax colour back into cheeks Pure-hearted, the boy Shot stone Colourful as a hatbox Lady In black caftan Soul in eyes Wedding cake Blues Body diaphanous as Rembrandt's Saskia, Hedgehog drawn in. Sleeve Like chiffon above the tomb, the wood coffin: Flows over & beyond sorrows, engulfing snows: The cake train leaves the station on time under frost moon. Boxcars heave In Russian night the way we love: Marl is night outed for wearing black? Smoke wreathes curl back, mortality leaving us a window: About us all, fur-muffs, the svelte of Robbie. Night's the natural pull-shade to day.
Aunt Glo & Nikki ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Came up, a fountain of colours from the south. Up North. To the Empress. He was fourteen. Aunt was taking him on the cruise she took his brother on To celebrate graduation from midschool, androgynous youth. A head of Irish Jewish curls. She was questioned at the border for possible Abducting him. And you, tall woman: Outed for wearing black? You've struck a home run in an inning. One doesn't need a light on when you're in the room. Glow sticks raspberry confections become glowworms But Honey has the blues: She threatens to put up police lines Around her room. Computer's on the fritz again. Needs new glasses. In your eyes which contain your colour Your smile Your caftan copious as Rembrandt's Saskia your arm commands the goldsmith shop In a sweep Like a sea captain's A conductor's baton the penguins in black. Sweetheart has the glums. Doe-skin. When ill, your eyes glow? They do now & you are in the peak of summer Like Aunti Glow, a babe at 80, who has gone & come Glasses shoved back on top of head A blonde Amelia Earhart crossing her ocean. You cross the room. Polar bear shines. Whitecaps peak like children in church making steeples with knuckles, folding & unfolding pale hands.
Polio scratched a lot beneath the surface ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Glass townships arch spires. Storks nest. Redistribute hay. An icepack on the spine cools small villages on fire, gleam. At home, arms akimbo: a worship of gadgets. Summer Friction. Chewing children's vitamins. Burgundy Lace. Samuel Johnson is quoted saying "portrait painting is a natural consequence of affection." Rob has offered to take mine To show how she sees me: I am in fear Of quarantined houses, bronze-green copper rooves, Slavic Steppes But somewhere a phone booth outside Stalingrad to slip a coin in Swap romantic words, dream. What if she photo shoots me, Moscow woman with a past, half smile cigarette on lip, hands in pocket catching a Northern European oblique rain?
Outed for Wearing Black? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ For thinking bleak For taking life back In two firm hands Like torquing a piece of paper. Like being tucked into satin quilts with silver moons. Except, those are bales of silver chain You untwist Like bandages unwound & set in the tall glass A[apothecary jar in the goldsmith shop with its brandy shadows: liquor flickers. You move forward to a client & you fear dying.
Leave the young thing alone ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ She's not that young Her smile takes the circus crowd for a ride. When I'm sad she comes to me with a thousand grins Red balloons. Dancing on the tomb Are we? She has her list of suppliers on hand. How tall exactly is she? The ward will not let go: Agon aglow: Pain was my cubicles mate not my reflection: the mirror's waters lap but I'm not that thick in. White as a bearded snow goat Death entered the room.
Slow Dance ~~~~~~~~~~ Be well & goodnight. Do we Slow dance over the coals of death Here up north? Held breath Sore Rib. A pen's nib Gets it down. Tears fall down on burning glass, won't cool it down. Cannot hose the fire. Chill out Dream shout. Grab the rails The liner tilts Ocean will leap, salt, in colour of my eyes green, stormcloud your eyes brown: Summer frictions flare up like a pile of matchbooks in our home Volatile arguments Volcanic time While this slow dance goes on, lady Knee bent In courteous curtsey, you, genuflect leave blaze marks on trees.

POST SCRIPTUM


Silker, it's a slippery slope to slide
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Don't give me the gears, the business:
Goodbye, silver cloud, goodbye, silver lining.
Slang's a saviour.
Mother was morbid but had her gay streak:
Could dance with hatboxes in her arms at eleven p.m.
You park your trees under the blaze of cars, slip into the jeweller's, six foot:
"Me, selling jewels, driving this old beat-up Toyota"
Whites that leap high as ponies, unicorns rear
Seahorse waves in there in the dark Old Boys Club atmosphere.
     The miniature high heels fastened round my wrist by Robbie
     Nearly came undone. I felt a slide of silver under my arm
     It remains secure, unlike her whose lover will not marry her:
     Big Ben: a silver chain she cut to shorten it from ankle bracelet to wrist
White cold underside of black & red shoe. I walked at age 9 in Autie Go's high heels
But what to do?
Silker, it's a slippery slope to slide down into depression
There the trees are darkest bronze green
There the palominos can browse
At the watering hole
Till their tongues are not parched felt in their mouths:
There, their sweetness goes down

*

All Poems copyright (c) 2008 Lynn Strongin


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All poems copyrighted by their respective authors. Any reproduction of
these poems, without the express written permission of the authors, is
prohibited.

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Klaus J. Gerken.

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