365 feet or seed, if we start from the ending.
Most days I can't even begin and this ivy
chokes everything: the bricks in the yard,
the white azaleas. Now, even the chain-link
fence around your wrist begins to collapse
beneath its weight because I'm waiting.
For what, you ask. For us? I don't know,
anymore, except I tell you that ivy moves
really fast. A foot or more each day.
You blink as I recite facts that don't matter:
how plants grow, total days in orbit, how to tally
silk or grain, the way I counted things before you.
The old rooster pecked
among husks and corn spires
for years and years.
A fighting cock he was,
who let neighbors know things
only cocks would know.
He evaded death until yesterday,
and just before I took his head off,
the cock’s thoughts became mine:
fear, the stilts of the crib,
a rusted fence. Egg shells.
Later, I sat down to thin-boned soup
with blood on my cuffs.
the scratchy side of stars
detached doll arms
grandpa's bait box
tales of the other Jesus
the noises we use to fuck strangers
i did not find willows in the sheets
i did not smell cotton in the fountains
i did not see the wild flowers crawl atop the rocks
it felt like home
i was the thing
the tick stuck in sap
I hate the way the media uses quotes from well known people as if they are news. I respect the right for every American to express their opinions. I don't care how famous you are, your opinions are not news, and do not belong on the headline page.
Maybe I'm in the minority here at PC, I definitely have some conservative views. What do you all think?
Embarrassment when others use cunt
in public shows how I was brought up
middle-class, told folk swear when they
don't know any better, which I didn't
as I am delighted with the Sex Pistols
embellishment of ant to unt in "Vacant"—
I've a Pavolv's dog reaction when I hear, read,
or see "C" in videos, my head dribbles Mam's
accusations: "...uncouth, dirty, indecent",
and, "you ought to know better." In Bruges,
finding them on exhibition walls, I make
a furtive effort towards less emotive aisles.
In front of them I'm a small lad sneaking
glances at newsagents' top shelves
Dali's fine line drawings
Lily head botanical illustrations.
Do I believe in God?
I go to church, but it’s political.
The shit I’ve done?
If God exists, he’d have to be a pussy!
Maybe in the clouds he has more balls—
but down in this world he has very little sway.
Not very godlike. Trust me.
“God’s a schmuck,” my father used to say.
“And so his followers are also schmucks.
If you want proof,
just walk around in Sheepshead Bay!
He even sent his son down to get crucified—
and look at Sheepshead Bay!”
That cracked him up.
My mother was a big believer, though!
She had a picture of Christ’s sacred heart—
that lantern shining in his chest!
My father mocked her for it.
“Dream on!” he derided.
“See if he can put a single beef roast
on your dinner table!”
If the two were candidates,
you must admit the polls would not be good—
the ticket-topper grouchy and aloof,
the VP hardly confidence-inspiring. Alright?
Jews did vote, actually. You know that.
wasn’t even close.
We live and let live, God and me. Okay?
His thing—creating weather—
mine—great buildings, formerly—
now, make this country great again.
If we meet on the other side,
we’ll do a deal together—
build creation’s most luxurious resort.
full series so far @ https://docs.google.com/document/d/1U5t4KTFyZtpYsyJNgwg3UMeRUkbsVbQ4LNNhqODP-k4/edit#
Lynn Doiron is a long time member and former editor here at poetrycircle. She is the recipient of the Dominic J. Bazzannella Awards in Fiction and Creative Non-fiction and author of Hand wording, New & Selected Poems. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Currently living in Baja California, Mexico, she works with retirees in honing their memoirs and is the co-founder of the Baja Wordsmiths.
In Lynn's new novel The True Life Adventures of Irene in White Tights, the past conflicts with the present, one side of the country with the other, younger generations confront older generations, culture collides with culture. The book is a fascinating and moving story of how a decades-old, almost forgotten murder influenced the following generations of one family. I asked Lynn to tell us a little about her writing process and inspiration for her new book:
LAVONNE: Lynn, thanks so much for the interview! poetrycircle members are eager to hear about your writing process and your new book.
LYNN: Thanks, El Vee! How could I refuse? You’ve been with me on this project from way back when, offering feedback and Atta Girl encouragements precisely when needed.
LAVONNE: All the details in your book are so authentic, such as the names of bands playing on the radio and things like celibacy insurance and Chinese cultural traditions. How did you do the research, and how long did you spend researching before you began writing?
LYNN: The internet is amazing. It’s like this well that never runs dry. With The True Life Adventures, I lowered an empty bucket down with its query, for instance, names of popular radio programs, New York City, 1930, and the bucket came up full, filled to the brim with programming information. In order to describe Irene’s radio, I asked the internet for images and—just like that—there they were, a whole selection of beautiful, old radios. All that remained was choosing the one that would play for Irene as she died. Additionally, I found volumes of information on Chinese culture—from small, supposedly learned, journals and books, doctoral treatises, etc. to newspaper articles and sermons printed during the weeks, months, years depicted.
I had a research partner for Irene’s story—Karin, the grand-niece of Irene Lowe. The True Life Adventures of Irene in White Tights is a fictionalized version of some aspects of what may or may not have occurred during the inspirational life of Karin’s great aunt. (Research assistants are the BOMB!) If memory serves, Karin is the person who first mentioned “celibacy insurance” … I mean, honestly, who knew? Not me. Of course I had to use it somehow, some way – and that’s how (or possibly why) characters are invented – to carry the data discovered that I felt I had to use. As a consequence, Olive’s parentage and history is expanded. The truth is, El Vee, I was learning every step of the way; discovering, uncovering, you name it …
LAVONNE: How do you select the names of your characters?
LYNN: Name selections were made for various reasons. Edison and Alex are for Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, and named thusly because at the turn of the century “invention” was everywhere and everything and their father, a dreamer more so than a doer, would’ve believed such names were good omens. Irene’s mother, Olive, is thus named because: the name suits the time; it’s organic; has a hard pit at its center; the trees are survivors. In the Asian story thread, Moses came to me as a name (I think?) because of the juxtaposition of race and religion with culture and the mythologies of those cultures (if that makes any sense!)
LAVONNE: What was your hardest scene to write?
LYNN: The opening. I have written and rewritten, the opening again and again and again. It has varied from location to location, from era to era, from one point of view to another and another. With basically three separate storylines and three protagonists as a result (not to mention the antagonists cluttering the stage), I didn’t know where to begin. At some point (I believe it was my agent, Liz), it was suggested I open with Irene’s final act, put the canon on stage, her in it, etc.
LAVONNE: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?
LYNN: Not sure how to answer this other than to say I did not want my male characters to be stereotyped as bullies, oafs, tricksters, heroes or villains. I wanted them above all else to be human beings, believable human characters. The same for my female characters. I don’t know how successful I was with these folks brought to the page. I can say that I fell in love with some as they came into being; with others, not so much.
LAVONNE: What was the hardest part of your writing process?
LYNN: Alterations were/are the hardest part of the process. Characters simply pick me up and carry me thither and yon. Between the front and back covers a novel requires 1.) a Start, and 2.) a Finish. Rounding up the characters from their far-flung corners of “story” requires/demands alterations to the paths originally taken … absolutely the hardest part of the process.
LAVONNE: Has going through the editing process and publishing your book changed your process of writing?
LYNN: Without doubt the editing process SHOULD have changed my writing process … but, alas, I still allow the character or even the germ of a character to take off at a gallop on uncharted terrain.
LAVONNE: Does writing energize or exhaust you? What is your writing ‘Kryptonite’?
LYNN: Picture me (Lynn) shaking head, biting bottom lip, smile creeping into demeanor as I recall a small girl I watched for a time earlier today. Five or six years old, hair down to her waist in the back and wildly everywhere in the front, camouflage pants and a boys’ T-shirt, yellow rain boots, she stood on a pile of concrete building blocks, the blocks making a mountain perhaps five or six feet tall … all of this … the girl, the cinder blocks, the pole she used like a magician’s staff … was within a dozen feet of the four-lane and very-fast free road between Rosarito and Ensenada. This is my writing Kryptonite.
LAVONNE: I want to ask you some questions about how you became a writer and what influenced you. What period of your life do you write about most often?
LYNN: From the time I was first taught how to form letters with a pencil, my mother would ask me to write to aunts and uncles in Oklahoma and Texas. She would spell the words, I would print them. Later, writing became a tool, a translator of sorts, to explain me to me. At best I’m a moody beast, seldom understanding why molehills become mountains, etc. If I wrote down the facts of an event as I knew (or believed) them to be, somehow the black and white of details shifted the focus.
LAVONNE: Do you have a favorite childhood book? What is the first book that made you cry or laugh out loud?
LYNN: The honest truth: I read The World Book encyclopedias, beginning with Volume A.
LAVONNE: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
LYNN: The experience that knocked me silly regarding the power of language came while taking a sociology class during my forties. Reading for the class included The Trial of Orestes by an old Greek playwright. How do you undermine and take away the freedom, properties, and privileges of women? You create a compelling myth wherein the goddess Athene proclaims she is “wholly” of man and Orestes, the defendant, is/was justified with the murder of his mother.
LAVONNE: Several years ago you made the decision to move to Mexico. How is it -- living the ex-pat life? What do you miss about the U.S. and what keeps you living south of the border?
LYNN: What I found in the Rosarito area of Baja California, Mexico, was "community" -- a large (I've been told in excess of 10,000) "community" of retirees. Also, the Mexican "community" -- which is by and large friendly, helpful, courteous, and kind -- was a welcome change from the too often surly expressions of storekeepers stateside.
LYNN: What do I miss about the U.S.? I miss my children and grandchildren. I suppose I miss the even sidewalks and safer roadways. But not the litigiousness of our U.S. states and citizenry. Down here, if you step in a city utility hole in the ground and break or twist something, the only one at fault is the one who made the misstep. Down here, if you never receive a bill and fail to go to the provider (electricity or phone or whatever) and make payment -- your electricity, phone or whatever will be shut off. I am responsible -- with or without a bill showing up at my door. I like the simplicity of Mexico. I love the Pacific Ocean as my back yard, flights of pelicans as my wild pets, and old white-haired men and women as bridge-playing partners and opponents.
LAVONNE: Lynn, thank you so much for your candid and informative responses. We are all looking forward to your next project!
LYNN: Are you kidding me? THANK YOU! Thank you for making this interview happen.
Lynn's new book is available on Amazon.com
no more tony tiger
while ralph ate cereal dotty swept the stars
and folded laundry
ralph bit with teeth
so bright the sun watched dotty replied with a basket
of sunday silence
swallowed her pride
while ralph rolled the chevy
on too many ballantines
with hard hands
ralph took dotty
into protective custody
he knew the suitcase at the top of the stairs was a sign
so was the thick mascara and lipstick
dotty never wore flats
they both bled that night
Rain. Again. For some reason the air
holds the smell of a struck match.
The breeze is loose around the walls,
tying itself up in the soon-to-bud lilacs.
Father’s breath shows and fades on glass.
I imagine he says if and I wait, still not knowing
his language, even after all these years,
all the things he might have meant.
The mechanism in my toilet tank is not working right.
I flush it and a few minutes later I hear a sound like rushing water.
It keeps doing this over and over again. It keeps me awake.
I must have done something bad to make this happen.
I don't know whether to stay in bed and pray that God will fix the toilet
or get up every time this happens, jiggle the handle
and hope that if I do this enough times something will catch
and eventually the sound of rushing water will stop.
I doodle during the dull business meetings
when half of the time people are deciding
when is the next discussion. I shall
ask Derek for the summary tomorrow
I play Candy Crush on my way back
in the Metro. Today is the fifth day in a row
when I shall eat cornflakes in my dinner.
I shall cook some pasta tomorrow
The tap in the bathroom is leaking,
gas cylinder is empty, the lock of the main
door is jammed. I will call up the landlord
My girlfriend has dumped me
without giving any reason. She's
not even giving me the Netflix password.
I will call her up tomorrow