Monday, October 29, 2007

Four poems by Linda Lerner

Four poems
by Linda Lerner

The Scream
(“The mass of (people) lead lives of quiet desperation”)
Henry David Thoreau

the bump that blue purpes the skin after a fall
when a mosquito bite is scratched yelling red
or death lurks its tumor head up to full zero color
is the scream I could feel all month
snake like shedding its colors behind
it’s all right
doesn’t matter
shit happens

and like the 20 inch steam pipe
which burst in Manhattan spewing forth
decades of rock metal asbestos debris
imagine one day I’ll be walking down the street
alone or with a friend
an ordinary day like any other
and suddently gripped with fear
feel that scream rush thru the city

I’ll race after it but will never find
what I’ve stopped feeling to reclaim

a day just like that one
an ordinary day....


For Allen Durgin

he named her grey
a two week old kitten
born of a stray a man who’d never
father his own child took in
grey to call her out of non existence
he first felt those tiny pin prick cries
told me how it kept on all afternoon
check for breathing
a ghost’s voice whispered in my head
saw her shrink who’d fluffed out
like the other four sucked even more heartily
check for breathing
held up all night against the vet’s warning:
the cure could kill her
brought me back to that long ago night
I sat up with my lover
fearing for his wild teen age son
as when a newborn
check for breathing
line stumbled on like a bone
from some other time
the night I watched another man
father a life he’d mourn


following a professor into blues waters
stalls on dry land

because how can he send his words
screamin’ & cryin’ thru the Mississippi Delta
‘bout some pretty momma

tenured language he’s given his life for
this balding professor who wants us to see
what drives him howlin’ naked
behind that verbal wall
he’s led us too...

half way into the lecture, we’re
still waiting
what is it about Muddy Waters,
Robert Johnson, Leadbelly moves him
in his dark suit starched white shirt
to get down and dirty with them
struggles as hard as he can
only nothing not a speck of dirt...

he takes us to a bar in a two street town
on the edge of nowhere
we’ve never been

seedy looking joint, a bunch of
guys jammin’something we can’t hear
he opens the door a crack puts one foot in
they give him a look you know the one
scared shit & pretending not to be

turns around and begins
fiddling with a machine

a guitar twangs out
an acoustic harp drums a piano
so clear I can see past the room this day
every sound paints where
he’s been leading us

the prof. closes his eyes...

“Have you ever loved a woman” *
curls smokey voiced around him
we are gone from the seats
our bodies are occupying

It’s hard but it’s fun
blueslady sings
life may break your little heart
baby oh baby
the professor is rocking back & forth

please don’t feel so bad
makes daddy feel so bad
baby oh baby....**


If I’m lucky

sometime I can feel the words
as I feel & smell a lover’s body
as I feel the day waking
though my window
coffee brewing words
I inhale as my cat rubs
a new morning against me
& with all the lost luxury of youth
let go of caution
shoot words all over the page
as through a paint gun
& the man if he’s still here
might be sneaking a call
to someone who slips past me
to the page
I’m late for work
there are chores
but the only thing that matters
the words to hear what they’re trying
to say not mean
feel them on my tongue
as I feel him as
I feel the first morning air
as I breathe

Author bio:

Linda Lerner is the author of twelve poetry collections, the most recent being Living in Dangerous Times, Pressa Press, 2007, and City Woman, March Street Press, 2006 (both were Small Press Review picks), and Because You Can’t I Will, Pudding House, (2005). March Street Press published The Bowery And Other Poems which was a Small Press Review pick of the month. Lerner has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 1995, Lerner and Andrew Gettler began Poets on the Line, ( the first poetry anthology on the internet which received two grants for the Nam Vet Poets issue. The anthology will be kept permanently online though it stopped publishing in 2000. Lerner has given numerous readings in the tri-state New york City area as well as around the country. Last April she read at the Popular Culture Society. Linda's poems have recently appeared / will appear in Tribes, Onthebus, The Paterson Literary Review, The New York Quarterly, Home Planet News, Van Gogh’s Ear, among others.

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