“The themes of wonder, love, and acceptance run through your poems in Living Diversity. You have created a kind of alchemy by discovering beauty within sadness, love within all experiences and always grounding us in the steady rhythms of the natural world. Thanks for bringing such a positive thought form to us at a time when we truly need it.” — Cynthia

Poems from Living Diversity and more recent


I dream a world
you get it all down such a hard world
me in it learning
what it is to be black
in the usa what it is to be white
in the usa both or nothing
makes sense you are not left out
you went all the way up to the bottom
can it possibly be true

You said there is no America
without sula nell macon judas
they are all here forever
have always been here
I know you didn’t write them
for me but a world in a book
is everyone’s and once read
becomes my world and so
I want to run out and let
a hundred balloons loose
race through the town shouting
way to go Toni
oh girl girl girl

The way it is

Think of the hair on their sweet heads.
One black as the eye of midnight,
soft to the touch, without curl.
Another blond, scruffy with impossible demands.
The youngest tightly wound and bristling.
Two boys and a girl. An American mix.

And think of the points of arrival.
Bucks County with acres of rich farms
as far from the Philippines as anyone can imagine,
and yet, here is my first born transferred from
Pearl Buck’s arms to my own.
Second son is pushed out from my own body,
surprised by the brother already in residence.
Their sister, years later, football shouldered,
African songed: a family.

While nations divide one race from another,
three children call each other brother, sister.
Their questing eyes do not ask the rightness
of this. Children learn what they see.

I hear their laughter as they discover
the pond down the road, the mystery
of apple trees whose limbs invite like ladders,
hay stacked for hiding and finding. Years
later I ask second son if he would have preferred
to be an only child. He doesn’t deign to answer,
only searches out his older brother who is teasing
his sister, and inserts himself between them.
His hand reaches out to them,
seeking comfort in the known.

Oh dear what can the matter be

No fair, I can’t go to the fair

I can’t go anywhere

Because something I can’t see

Is floating around in the air

Even Johnny isn’t calling

Even while my world is falling

He promised to bring me blue ribbons

To tie up my hair

But why tie up my hair

When I can’t go anywhere

They’ve cancelled the fair

The sky is falling

And Johnnie isn’t calling

I’m home alone . no Johnny,

no fair

that’s what happens

     when you are home
     alone                     alone
you start to talk
     to Grace Paley
one minute rapt
     in her words
     the next lost
     in memory
both of us in line
     to hear Gloria Steinem
     I recognize you
     by your high-top tennis shoes
and words that fly
     around your head
     like glittering bumblebees
that Brooklynese
     buzzing a Burlington street

“we have one another now and then”

Is that true Grace
     are you listening

Come down Isaiah

Twined round a branch like an airborne root,
          the boy looks down from three branches up.
He is not about to descend.
         Certainly not to this white woman’s command.
She thinks he will fall.
          He looks down on her with disdain,
continues to climb & climb & climb.
          Isaiah is five years old and already he knows

the only way is up.

Yes, Wendell, I am on my way

I will secede
from the government of money and war
from the government of division
from a fear of oneself translating into a fear of the other
I ask everyone to hold with Mr. Berry
in the open farmland, the deepest woods
the highest mountains, the quietest lakes
Yes, yes, I will hold fast against a river of money
designed to benefit only the rich
I will call everyone neighbor, call and call all people
to stand beneath the stars that belong to everyone.


All poems copyright © 2018 by Lynn Martin. All rights reserved.