Lyn Lifshin

Lyn Lifshin

Lyn Lifshin has written more than 125 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. Her poem “No More Apologizing” has been called “among the most impressive documents of the women’s poetry movement” by Alicia Ostriker.

Lyn has given numerous readings across the U.S.A. and 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 also the subject of the documentary film Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. She has been praised by Robert Frost, Ken Kesey and Richard Eberhart, and Ed Sanders has seen her as “a modern Emily Dickinson.”

Lyn Lifshin’s prizewinning book (Paterson Poetry Award) Before It’s Light was published 1999 – 2000 by Black Sparrow Press, following their publication of Cold Comfort in 1997. Texas Review Press published her prize winning book of poems about the famous, short lived beautiful race horse, Ruffian in 2006: The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian. Another Woman who Looks Like Me was published by Black Sparrow-David Godine in October 2006.

Other books: A New Film about a Woman in Love with the Dead, Marilyn Monroe, When a Cat Dies, Another Woman’s Story, Barbie Poems, The Daughter I Don’t Have, What Matters Most, Blue Tattoo, Mirrors, August Wind, Novemberly, 92 Rapple Drive, Desire, All The Poets Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead: All True, Especially the Lies and Tsunami. Other writings include a book about the courageous and riveting race horse, Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness from Texas Review Press, Nutley Pond from Goose River Press, Lost in the Fog from Finishing Line Press, Persephone from Red Hen, For the Roses poems after Joni Mitchell from March Street Press, Hotel Hitchcock from Danse Macabre and A Girl Goes into the Woods from NYQ books.

For interviews, photographs, more bio material, reviews, prose, samples of work and more, please visit her web site:


even in October
sun blazes, if only
it could burn the
dark mist from me.
Buildings the color
of light, La Rambla
de Mar. Pale sales,
cotton candy. I
wish I was who I
was, longing for
eyes dark as


as if sun could burn
the blues out of
me. It scorches
the black I’m
wrapped in.
Darkness in me
trapped as the
Santa Eulalia’s
historic schooner
moved near the
Columbus monument
tho on Saturday
mornings the schooner
sets sail around the
harbor for 3 hours


once custom built
to house fishermen
who this lived on
this triangular
spit of land

juts out into
the water

gritty, charming

broad sandy beaches

Someday I will wonder
how I could have
wanted more


like a cake in the rain,
an unfinished dripping cake.
For over 130 years
Barcelona has worked
to bring Antoni Gaudi’s
vision to reality.
Warm October wind,
poppies in the garden.
For a moment I don’t
think about what’s
coming, hypnotized by
these towers and
spires dedicated to Mary,
topped with a cross
that will shine like a
light house, visible
from far out at sea


“nothing is invented—Gaudi believed,
“it’s written in nature,”
like the trunks of trees, columns
blossom with life—brown clay,
gray granite, gray basalt.
For a moment, I could be in
a rain forest as far from what haunts
as a dream can pull me. Four
red porphyry columns,
doves, turtles, pelicans, chameleons.
In stained glass light, somehow
I think of Coleridge calling love “a
local anguish”


down a coble
stone side street.
Suddenly in the
warmth, a giant bug
on the wall, sketches
and paintings by
Picasso, Santiago
Rusinal and Ramon
Cases. I can imagine
coiled into Picasso’s
arm. I would be
like Dora—everyone
says I look like her–
sipping absinthe,
a decoration but
taking the gossip in


cafes, flower stands,
dancers, prostitutes.
I should have come
to Barcelona years
before the blues
dogged me. Even
in the sun, even
with petals in more
colors than I know
names for. The sun
feels black. Even
artists and wild
street mimes,
fountains, statues,
pigeons can’t pull
me from this mood
tho a man with a
shower wants to wash
everything bad from
your brain makes
me smile


drink from the
fountain and you’ll
come back to
Barcelona. Once
a stream flowed
under these wavy
tiles. Rambling
means stream in
Arabic and I am
doing just that in
awe of those Plane
trees with their
peeling bark. And
then the Ramblas
of flowers, seeds
for radishes, greens.
peppers and beans
never seen in
the U.S.


an explosion of
chicken legs, bags of
live snails, stiff fish,
delicious oranges.
Odd odors, sleeping
dogs. As far back as
1200, Barcelonians
have brought animal
parts here. Tourists
are drawn like moths
to flame to the area
below the stained
glass sign. Locals
know the stalls up
front pay the highest
rent so they inflate
their prices but if you
go to the right of
the aisles, the clientele
gets more local
and prices drop


somehow, facing
away from the Atlantic

Ironic that Barcelona
celebrates the

explorer. The
discoveries of this

man started
300 years of decline

for the city as Europe
began to face west,

the Atlantic, the
New World

rather than the
Mediterranean and
the Orient


here the trees grow
boughs like a
woman’s hair
running, the winds
so strong the
trees grow sideways


no bull fights,
we pass forbidden
arenas style, Moorish
style, minarets. Palm
trees, flags and
more flags. Let
Catalan Separate.
Upper floors for the
rich to parade from.
When the arenas
dry out people
dress in their best
clothes to see
and be seen


8 am light on
castles like buildings.
Drizzle, palm
trees. We pass
forests, white flowers,
white geese and
nearly miss
the moon still
hanging in
the cloudless sky


medieval castles,

four cats in a bicycle basket

black bikinis on the
beach. If only I had just

come here when I was
who I was


salt wind blurs
Placa de la Cala

Villa and Sant Bartemeu
Santa Tecla’s Church
will fade like dreams
along with those
tanned biceps
and stories. Some
how in a photograph
with him I look
pale, somehow scared,
too timid to
remember what I did


the man across from
me at dinner says,
“but he has stories!
I had a drink with him
the other night. If he
writes a book about
his life, I’ll be sure
to read it.” I think how
he told me people
are tense in Paris,
Paris is losing what
it was but in Barcelona,
it’s like the colors,
free and fiery

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All poems on this post: © Lyn Lifshin
Published with the permission of Lyn Lifshin