lyn lifshin



a much more rare obsession than mind, tho
in some ways, not that different. The woman
in love with what's dead, what's given up
on breathing, caring, could be me knocking
my knuckles raw on your metal door while
you gulp another beer, put your head down
on the table. With you, it often was like
singing to someone in a casket the lid was
already down on, still expecting something.
She buried animals in the woods, didn't mind
touching them. Though I made our nights into s
omething more, I could have been coiled
close to a corpse. No, that part is a lie. Your
body was still warm. It was everything inside
where your heart must have been that was
rigid, ice. The woman in the film went to work,
an embalming assistant. Isn't that what I'm
doing? Keeping you with words? Embracing
you on the sheet of this paper, a tentative
kiss on cold lips, the cuddling of cadavers?
In the film the woman says loving the dead is
"like looking into the sun without going blind,
is like diving into a lake, sudden cold, then
silence." She says it was addictive. I know about
the cold and quiet afterward, how you were a
drug. If she was spellbound by the dead, who
would say I wasn't, trying to revive, resuscitate
someone not alive who couldn't feel or care
with only the shell of the body. Here, where no
body can see, I could be licking your dead body
driving thru a car wash. I could be whispering
to the man across the aisles, “bodies are addictive.”
Our word for the loved and the dead are the same,
the beloved, and once you’ve had either while you
haven them, you don’t need any other living people
in your life



who danced frenziedly for her
unseeing conquests. They were
dead. You might as well have
been. I pull on perfume, put
on a show you couldn't resist,
showed what I hadn't to others.
I wanted to be lovers lips to
awake the Sleeping Beauty,
Snow White, even the Frog
Prince you were. I wanted you
to see and breathe me. It was
more like my kisses were a way
in to the ground, comfortable
passage to the after-life, I must
have played my own part: women
with icy fathers say constantly
they try to thaw snow men, are
left a mess, their hands empty.
My friends warned me, told me
feelings in you were dead but tho
I knew you were taboo, I felt
something, like with the dead,
the soul must linger with the body
for a time, waiting for one last fling


from the book A New Film About a WOman in Love with the Dead

Lyn Lifshin

     Lyn Lifshin has written more than 100 books and edited 4 anthologies of women writers. Her poems have appeared in most poetry and literary magazines in the U.S.A., and her work has been included in virtually every major anthology of recent writing by women. She has given more than 700 readings across the U.S.A. and has appeared at Dartmouth and Skidmore colleges, Cornell University, the Shakespeare Library, Whitney Museum, and Huntington Library. Lyn Lifshin has also taught poetry and prose writing for many years at universities, colleges and high schools, and has been Poet in Residence at the University of Rochester, Antioch, and Colorado Mountain College. Winner of numerous awards including the Jack Kerouac Award for her book Kiss The Skin Off, Lyn is the subject of the documentary film Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. For her absolute dedication to the small presses which first published her, and for managing to survive on her own apart from any major publishing house or academic institution, Lifshin has earned the distinction "Queen of the Small Presses." She has been praised by Robert Frost, Ken Kesey and Richard Eberhart, and Ed Sanders has seen her as " a modern Emily Dickinson."

A New Film About a Woman in Love with the Dead
A New Film About a Woman in Love with the Dead

Lyn Lifshin, 2002, 109 pages, $20.00, ISBN 1-882983-83-1 (March Street Press, 3413 Wilshire Drive, Greensboro, NC 27408)

     Almost every woman I know has had at least one heart-wrenching experience with a "bad news" boyfriend, and Lyn Lifshin is no exception. In this new collection of 103 poems she chronicles her own relationship with such a man, one who happened to be a popular radio personality, yet possessed a chilly heart. She tells her tale in a sequence of poems that reads like a novel, spanning the length of the relationship from beginning to end, including a period of time years later when she learns he has died of cancer....

Laura Stamps

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