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Lyn Lifshin: Dangerous Tango
Part of the PoetryCircle Showcase series.
  • The affair

    The Margaritas were blue with paper roses.
    Later I thought how they were the only salt of those nights.
    His e mail letters like skin,
    very taut. What he didn’t say drugged me.
    Language was wild, intense.
    I could feel him, his screen name a tongue.
    Verbs taut, what he didn’t say a drug.
    It was a dangerous tango.
    I wanted his body glued to mine.
    Distance kept the electricity vivid.
    It was a dangerous tango.
    How could I know his mother leaped into Niagara Falls.
    I fell for his words, what he left out.
    How could I know he was ice.
    How could I know his mother leaped into the falls.
    Even in the heat, he was icy.
    His name was Snow. Our last night
    we drove thru fog until 3.
    He told me things he said he’d never told anyone.
    My thigh burned where it touched him.
    On our last night we drove thru Austin
    mist talking. I was burning.
    He photographed me, exhausted, at 3 AM. Everything he
    told me was a scar. My hair curled in a way
    I hated. After that night I wasn’t sure
    I would be pretty again.
    Everything he told me was a
    scar. Under the ice the anger in him was lava.
    I wanted him, always longing for men
    with something missing.
    The Margaritas were the only salt I’d taste.
    The anger in him was lava under the ice.
    I wanted more, my longing a scar.
    When he didn’t write, I printed his old e mail.
    When I no longer looked for it
    his e mail was there, like a mugger.
    The Margaritas were strong with black paper roses



    I didn’t know it was addictive,
    dangerous as morphine,
    mysterious, no, electric as
    that touch from a stranger you
    know could never not be
    riveting as death. Anything
    pastel couldn’t compete.
    Save the waltz for the blue
    eyed blondes, I want a tango I
    might not survive, exotic
    as Valentino in a tent
    under a desert moon, that
    circle a flaming plate.
    This dance is a drug like thighs
    scorching, a duel of bodies no one
    can turn back from. The heroin
    dance, musky as Araby or damp skin
    where some woman waits
    in darkness, the tent flaps
    opening like labia


    But instead has gone into woods

    A girl goes into the woods
    and for what reason
    disappears behind branches
    and is never heard from again.
    We don’t really know why,
    she could have gone shopping
    or had lunch with her mother
    but instead has gone into
    woods, alone, without the lover,
    and not for leaves or flowers.
    It was a clear bright day
    very much like today.
    It was today. Now you might
    imagine I’m that girl,
    it seems there are reasons. But
    first consider: I don’t live
    very near those trees, and my
    head is already wild with branches


    All afternoon we

    read Lorca
    by five snow
    blurred the
    glass. February. I
    leaned against
    those chill panes.
    burned through the
    snow with apples
    You in the
    other room
    I was thinking
    don’t let
    this be some
    warmth I can
    move near
    and never know


    The chameleon

    Some days he’s the sheik, he’s
    Valentino, slicked back hair
    for a dangerous tango. A
    day later it’s jeans, the bad
    boy, the hipster. His sneer
    pierces. His beard grows in
    over night. Some days he’s
    French, some days Italian.
    He’s the sheik in more ways
    than one. The heart breaker,
    the Valentino. Tango with
    him and he leaves a stain.
    One day he’ll bring you
    chocolate, another he’s in his
    Fred Astaire hat, is the dance
    away lover. Too many women
    linger near his tent. Valentino
    in a pale striped summer
    suit, Valentino in the tuxedo.
    The days he’s Viennese,
    your feet won’t touch the
    ground. He smells sweet as
    he says you do. For beat or
    hippy days, his sweat smells,
    thrills some. If death gets
    him young like Valentino,
    the train with his gorgeous corpse
    would stall traffic. Long haired
    girls, blue as the silver bloom,
    or the tart and sweet blueberry
    will cry and no one no one will
    know who he went out as
  • Lyn Lifshin, with over 120 books and chapbooks published over decades, returns with a collection that reminds us why she has captured the imagination of so many over the years. Lyn would love your feedback.
You, Javed Iqbal, Oberd Ladiny and 7 others like this.
  1. papaver
    The Margaritas were blue with paper roses (what a sensual line).

    Lovely pieces, one and all.

    Poppy ~xx~
  2. Its awesome from "The affair" to "The chameleon"... beautiful poetry !
    Cheryl.Leverette likes this.
  3. Cheryl.Leverette
    When I think about the showcase I think about this one.  I think because the title and the poems blew me away.  I've been a fan of the showcase and Lyn ever since.
  4. Nicole Michaels
    so glad I saved this for Valentines Day waking to a dream of stigmata, tears, wind.
    Cheryl.Leverette likes this.
  5. Kurt Nimmo
    nice. met Lifshin around 2004 in El Paso, Texas. she gave a knock-down reading. published some of her stuff back in the 80s when I published Planet Detroit.
    Cheryl.Leverette likes this.
  6. lovely imagery interspersed with harsh reality
  7. bodkin
    Very taken with "But instead has gone into woods".
  8. Anita L. Russell
    Ms. Lifshin, 5 stars are not enough. "Brilliant" is not a good enough adjective, but it's the only one I have right now.