“Lynn comes to poetry from a working class background. Her verse contains a raw truthfulness uncontaminated by privilege.  Lynn’s style compliments that of the state of Vermont:  sharp lines, a tough backbone, and an aesthetics the quality of moss.”
—   Meg Mott,  Professor of Political Science Theory, Marlboro College

“It would be sufficient if Lynn Martin delighted and moved us with her trademark eye for life’s transitions, observed through the ever-renewing contemplation of the incarnate. Yet it is the rising phantom of eternity, coalescing in every poem to reveal itself in all its surprising vigor, (as in Martin’s own words) “complete, whole, immediately known,” that her poetry transcends and carries us, in her loving arms, to a new world behind this one, at once remembered and rediscovered.”

—    Suzanne d’Corsey, Playwright and Author

Living the myth

None of us ever wanted to be Dorothy

Only daredevil Donald signed up for the scarecrow,
he was good at falling down with an inane grin

Something about the tin man even without a heart drew us closer
He was tall, shiny, definitely a leading character

We all fought over being the lion, even without courage.
None of us knew what courage was anyway
We’d all seen the movie, but we had forgotten everything but his roar

What we all thrilled to was skipping down the Yellow Brick Road.
Whistling and shouting and singing off key.
Neighbors flew out their doors
thinking there was some terrible emergency.

The youngest of us was strong-armed
into playing the good witch
She always agreed, wanting only to be loved.

The next fight was over the Wicked Witch
We all knew this part was made for us.
In the end everyone took a turn and we scared each other

Forget the Munchkins. And as for the Great Oz
we were all tempted, but where the Wicked Witch was familiar
Oz, well he was scary
too much like Mr. Smith on the next block
who yelled at us for walking on his grass

We never did get to Kansas

Rapunzel

Can you fill a cup with hair
strand by strand in gleaming white?
Rapunzel long since having cut her hair,
no longer sits at windows sighing.
In fact the castle long ago fell into ruin.
Memories. Oh yes, she has memories.
Some burn her flesh and keep her warm;
others wake her wailing in the night.
Born with a crop of radiant black hair,
at two years old it turned blond.
Neighbors looked, suspicious.

Maybe that’s why she’d ended up in a tower
far above mean rounded eyes, staring.
Had she lost the key,
forgotten the way down
having contemplated clouds too long?

The young Rapunzel hadn’t given a hoot for hair.
Rolled it up under a cap while she rode her brother’s stallion.
She, being the only one it didn’t buck off.
Or booted and dark skirted she melted into the woods,
the smell of hemlocks and dark nights enticed.
Yes, she did let down her hair.
And the prince did appear.
But does anyone remember him?
Three children later
not wanting any of her children to live in a tower,
she went to work,
became a poet on the side.
The children grew up and left for other stories.
She happily went on writing,
Thus anonymous she was happy,
even as she aged.

She was Rapunzel and that was enough.

 

 

Meditation on a silkscreen

from the silkscreen : Morning Visitor
by Edward Landon

The moving fox
doesn’t hesitate in the snowy field,
her attention fixed on what’s to come.
Caught between three strokes of color,
she travels on, sunshaken
through an eternity of space.
Her presence reddens the world,
suggested by a paw suspended
in the act of going forth.

The field is blank of choosing,
and she the messenger of thought
or is she merely setting forth
to visit the waiting water, a heartbreak
of blue that might slacken thirst?
She may veer to the right,
enter the wood whose washed out
greens seem to belong to dreams.
Direction belongs to her alone.
The set of her shoulders tell the story
of determination, a certain goal.

It may be the sun came out unexpectedly
and polished her coat too soon.
She is caught without protection,
her only thought to get away
beyond the confines of this painting.
She is heading for the borders
about to leap into this room.

 

The Other Country

“I wish there were somewhere
actual we could stand.”
Adrienne Rich

 

Dawn is spreading out, a gradual advance,
a taking in of mountains, the red
turning of a maple lead, a distance
of fields. This slow awakening where the head
turns on the pillow, eyes are open
and staring, the breath steady and sure.

In the other country
the harvest passes though hands
the color of earth, or maybe
a shadow of saffron from the underside
of a wing. A matter
of an early morning in fall where color
is a growing a newness of variation.

In the other country, people aren’t afraid
to laugh, a soaring over rivers
like swallows stitching the air into day.
The child is running to school
with a shiny yellow cap, swinging
a full lunch pail that catches the sun
in its handle, while father
buries a dead bird, crying
into the earth with ease.

 

 

Accidentals

Something out of place,
seen where it doesn’t belong.

A surprise on the water
like Tundra Swans unexpected
and flung far from the Arctic
onto a Vermont pond.

Me, driving home, seeing all that white
with sinewy S-shaped necks
out of the corner of my eye.

Blessed is an ordinary Wednesday,
now etched forever in memory
as that Wednesday I went home

another way and found myself
far flung from work, from home,
from whoever I was before

black beaks beckoned me
while four pairs of wings unfolded.

 

 

Zoo      Terracotta      Kind

for Kathleen Burgess

“Best not to send you to the ER,” says the doctor,
“it’s a zoo down there today.”

Well, it is a Monday with a storm on the way.

She takes my blood pressure sitting down,
then standing up. Pushes and pulls on my arms
to see if I can push back.

I feel like I’m made of clay,
a Terracotta jar with an unknown crack
somewhere hidden away.

She looks in my ears, my throat, my eyes.
Everything looks normal, yet
something is wrong somewhere.

The doctor has firm brown hands,
a reassuring smile.
She is kind. She cares.

So when she says,
“Here are three words.

I’ll ask you to repeat them in five minutes,”
I’m still repeating them days later:

Zoo Terracotta Kind

I hold tight as if
they are a magician’s
incantation.

 

All poems  © 2016 by Lynn Martin. All rights reserved.