Lynn Strongin


Like Lincoln Out of Office Hours


Whitehorse & Yellow Knife turn cloudy

like lands in a paper weight ball:                       filmy      glassy as the Five & Dime in snow
down the block;
Weather reports are solace to me.

Sail me back to Ohio River Valley.
I come by it honestly                                love for horseback riding.
There I met, married daddy.

Divorce wedges sky in big "V's" headed into a winter high

             The living God
                         looks out at me from your eye.


Lincoln Out of office

The furnace makes it July:                    but it's January:
Ontario             high-winter. (Frosted albino hills roll, the invisible insurrection of God.)

Due to her, her sister won't dare a child:            A hazard like murder:
the Fragile X Chromosome is woman-borne.

The sisters dream microscopes on cliffs
suicidng into ocean.

But each is her own huntswoman.
Married love is now not easy:

Never was but now is risen
like iron

breaking open the red heat of an oven,
she dons a smile

doffs depression
the natural leaf-colored ebb she lives in                       tugging her child along
             Toward slate sea.
             It's not for nothing the Lord gave her broad shoulders:
             Rowing                 Rowing                 Bowing.


Orator to none

under an oyster-white moon                          her frock-coat on its nail hung
like a man's.

Angel Fuels
Oils 100% Northern       Pure Canadian.
Ohio to Ontario.
Tear up the cold like floorboards with nails, ripped by hand.
We've left a White Log Cabin, Contemplation ,like Lincoln.

Agnus Dei, Lamb of God.
We thought to name you Agnes before Lalo had the right sound.

             Bright, bright as a fir tree
             coming Midwinter Solstice:
                                     could have been an apt name.

Mother Noel in flowing robes held the scales.
Danced her dread daily:
To Pergolesi.   To Vivaldi, the red-haired priest of the ospidali of girls, the orphanage in Italy.


War Child's Lullabye

I saw the circular quarry:
burnt limestone library of my childhood             a line drawing:

Chorusing the Covenant.

I dreamed of Lincoln
Union Jack & Confederate Flags rippling, stars breaking apart into lines then pleating into stars again.

I dreamed I was standing
in a field of wild grasses before his son, Tod, who died              limned with sun

under the ruinous sky
live apple-trees rosinous, sickened.

I remember my last day with legs
first Sunday wheeling   in old wooden wheelchair
into an improvised hospital temple its Mogen David pasted on the wall. Bald in back from bed-lying.)

Remember the June noon you came into my life

out of discord:
a round stone:
beating rain made a homelike sound.

I held such fear at bay that winter
now, when it rained      it torrented down:
I rode bareback under a sun which flicked the whip,  beat fire with no hidden harm.


Vision trained telescope-fine

Sharp mirror-like lens
lawyer from Illinois        long-legs crossing log cabin to books:
Soft-spoken, Kentucky-born to a Kentucky Frontiersman and a Hanks,
Abraham:          poet, eloquent orator:
Self-educated,  could read, write & cipher:      melancholic. Suicidal?
Where white windblown logs stood stacked for the burning in autumn.

Focus upon geese barking in a ring:
Not tender domestic like duck, dog, or kitten.

Mysteries of the fine mind
the final mind, the melancholy in detail

the Gettysburg Address
penned with nib dipped in 40% ink, 60% blood:
Parchment darkened with his stunning oratory & startling lyric intensity.

Lincoln, wintering with Mary Tod & Tod
Or their four boys, only one loved: December-ing

that ring which is burnished rosin
a coin, resonance

like a violin
wrestled with its Cremona anguish, dark tone.


Civil War Soldier

             He raises himself to a razed world:       pre-dawn ash sifts.
The Confederate soldier lists. . . . the battlefield sways              behind his 20-year old bloodshot eyes.

The light exit of the dark           the dark exit of the light
amid the Triage workers          he sat  up, the wounded man who rose & kept rising:
This is the visible insurrection of his invisible death.

Elementary field-surgery
he knows not what lies before him. Give him two reasons not to die.

The word rings a bell which tools misery
from the saddest part of his childhood: polio.

He looked down the ward like looking down a gunbarrel to Hell.

All those carts unfolded like extinct cranes dusted off
brought from some dark museum vault: sprung open for children.

The children lay in cots
as men did now:          some being carried out on gurneys with wood handles:
a nest of others suffering:         like eggs, like Russian dolls.

The week in Purgatory.
Medieval weights & pulleys.

His own mother would prefer him to die:
the fine planed wood doors of heaven sliding, waxed & oiled,  opening.

Now's Hallucination:
The naily river of rehabilitation                        on its banks the wounded & dying: bandages no longer white but blood-stained & gray:
when body habits another house, in the body & sharp, but a great change comes.

             Pain. Amputation.
             The cracking of bone
             brings the entire light down like a revolving wheel, ceiling to crack & shatter his remaining bones:
             Not Michelangelo's Sistine
             despite the scaffold he's swaying on      like he's drunk a Fifth of Jim Beam:
             No Southern Comfort in the bled light leans
             like a dying soldier upon his stick:
             A bladed tool he turns, helplessly, dazzled, shocked in his hands.


Lord, Lincolnís son, Tod was taken

like lynx takes bird.

Wheeling chaos            a chariot of ash:
gray gloom the winged things alighting all in one tree.

Who knows the story whole?

Let him have lungs to tell.

To order this life             like glass, cork-stoppered bottles in an apothecary:
Recite half-remember school-boy nerve-rosaries from the ground        which wonít obey.

Resisting bitterness
he tastes his hand: the sea-salt, the lime.       the blood-iron:
             Safe in the Theaterís loge
             The Ford Theater on Good Friday
             with all his legal acumen he could not have seen
             the bullet tailing toward him.

             John Wilkes Booth
telescoping: the great orator & melancholic, a bullet put thru him,          felled like a pine.


The blood spilled thru vests

of Black Porters bearing his body home       along the rails which told the news:
the blood as dark as the man was long.

It was lined with Black folk singing.

He'd take this calm      if that was what it was
& ride it free rein        from burning core out to rim:

slipping from slack of sleep
harness of fear resting in his running
into eternal rest a quilt covering him     to the bullet-snap rhythms of the steel rails glistening.


On Break from a Kentucky County Hospital

the county midwife came

clumps of manuscript under his arm      Abe opened the door.

Her face was partially open
cheerful             she
cockhorsed his boy, Tod, on her knees.

Neither loved the other.
Nevermind the natter.

             nor could either move the desk piled by the slat-board gray
                                     Existed no way to keep, like little Rhenish foxes, the loneliness away..