Another poem from the recently released anthology “easing the edges: a collection of everyday miracles” with deep thanks to editor d. ellis phelps. It was inspired by my beloved stepmother and happy childhood summers in Annan-Leith near Georgian Bay on Lake Huron.
It’s been ten years since the accident, and now
he’s a grocery boy in an older man’s body,
still dreaming—like any twenty-year-old
before a major head injury would—
of the beautiful women yet to come.
And come they do—to the stocked shelves,
pushing their carts like baby carriages,
strolling the aisles of their good lives.
No stroll for him though—his body
moves, but stiffly, accommodating
his intentions as best it can, as if he
were remotely controlling it for the
first time. But it’s his limbs seizing
the courage to keep moving
that mercifully fires his separate parts
into agreement. Nothing remote about that.
He carries the heavy bags out to the large
shining cars. It’s hard for him to speak
a sentence and be understood, but he tries
anyway: each word fought for, dragged
from the bottom of the laryngeal sea,
while his listeners fish for patience,
a few turning away with quick thanks and
driving off, their own tongues floundering.
He opens his shirt collar: Jesus hangs
from the chain around his neck—
the reason he’s still here, he says, and why
every day is “awesome”—because blue
sky, black sky, brazen eye of summer,
that’s the view the living have, and snow,
rain, wind are all two thumbs up
on the scale of tingling his skin.
With the light of the world glinting
in his eyes and the bleached sands of
his hair, shoring him up against the
cruel twist of the years, he writes down
his number, wants to talk longer, later.
Let the beat go on for the heart
that insists dreams are meant to be
reached for, not shelved.
This poem first appeared in the anthology “Best of Kindness 2017” by the Origami Poems Project. My thanks to judge Mary Ann Mayer and editors Jan and Kevin Keough for its inclusion, and to Kent at my local Safeway for its inspiration and for being such an inspiration generally!
Cave Without A Name
Here’s another of my poems included in the wonderful anthology “Through Layered Limestone”, edited by d. ellis phelps and available for purchase from Amazon here
I’m honoured to be in the company of Robert Okaji and Stephanie L. Harper, and many others who know the Texas Hill country well.
The west windows of the house cannot open
far enough to hear the backyard river
but the one east window, by which I sleep,
lets every murmur in, brimming on the early
morning tide with night’s collected songs
and a wind for dreams to sail on, in red and
yellow and green boats, past the branches
of the only trees they know, to land on the
shores of an earth that needs them, my earth.
To go forth into the day
in the wide pull of that current,
belonging deeply to the world.
The chill of autumn is in the air today. Made me think of this poem, first published in North Shore Magazine way back in 2005!
The House Of Your Making
Months now, of leaving and returning,
one birth soothing the long passage
of many griefs at an unexpected death,
your little red suitcase packed and unpacked
so often, it stands ready for the next trip
in a corner of the bedroom.
Months of fashioning a sturdy door
behind which is the home you remember,
opened and closed from a great distance,
a shell you can put your ear to
and be lifted back into a familiar sea.
But the home you remember is not
the home you return to: that mother left,
and was put like a book finally finished
to gather dust on a crowded shelf,
her absence easing a son into his own story.
You stand in the house of your making,
bereft. Once upon a time, you think.
And a dream that has slept for years
in the wide spaces beyond your words,
wakes up like a lion, the darkness roaring
This poem concluded my first chapbook, “Stealing Eternity”, still available for purchase (directly from me). You can probably tell from the picture that my little red suitcase is looking a little the worse for wear 15 years later. A lot of stories (poems?) packed in there!
I saw you early today in the window
of your den that overlooks the street,
no doubt googling the latest treatment
options in a blur, while a Howe Sound
wind held office among the skyscraping
trees, rifling through the leaves like it
was looking for something, someone
and I dared to hope that far from the
finality of a label, written or spoken,
your body could soar in the open air
of its dreaming places and be nameless,
ageless, free again of any diagnosis, and
that behind the pane you too could hear
birds now shuffling through their notes
as if in concert with lifting the dark
sentence from that tiny cell of a word.
I am happy to say that so far, 8 years later, the birds have worked their magic! This poem is included in my chapbook “Irresistible”, coming any day now from Finishing Line Press, copies of which can be purchased here:https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/irresistible-by-lynne-burnett/
Tandem Hang-Gliding Incident
Photo by Anton Darius | @theSollers on Unsplash
An anniversary gift, her first time doing it
Lenami Godinez-Avila, 27, hugged the pilot
from behind as instructed, ran with him
awkwardly to the edge and stepped
into the wind-tug beyond anyone’s reach—
her harness not clipped on. She fell
like Icarus a thousand feet, melting
from sight with the pilot’s shoes
into a sea of limbs webbed with leaves
down, down to the forest floor.
Her boyfriend, filming it,
stopped. Love screamed
through the air as he ran down
Mt. Woodside to find her.
Until he did, there was hope.
The pilot glided back to an open
mouthed crowd, to his twelve
year old daughter watching,
and swallowed the memory
card onboard. His fiftieth birthday.
Who hasn’t known each of them
in dreams?—where we fall without
falling, see what can’t be happening,
get to creatively escape a bad scene.
And wake relieved, our lives still
hanging by a thread of assumptions.
This poem won the 2016 Lauren K. Alleyne Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize. It reads like fiction but is completely factual – sadly so. I received the news New Year’s Eve and it appeared in IthacaLit early January, 2017. An auspicious start to the year! This poem is also included in my chapbook “Irresistible”, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press this spring. Copies are available for preorder here: https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/irresistible-by-lynne-burnett/
This Water Knows
Below this whale song of waves: the fin-happy,
sounding through all the dumb canyons
of the sea, coloured crayon-bright in the dark
flooded basement of the earth, shadow-drifted
across aqueous meadows prismed with light,
blending with gray rock and white sand,
knobby coral and long swishy green,
ferned and prickled, smoothed and elongated,
troubled hard, dense, small
but here, and free—
the mute-mouthed, mandibled hungry
and the hunted—to a grotto-chased,
honorable death. Or those given eyes
to see the dangling hook, the silver
door swinging shut before it’s too late.
Those at least, weapons in the hand.
Not a cavernous ground zero.
But this water knows, in its reach, how
my bikini got its name. Makes me think
of dreams I barely had, so quickly did they
sink from sight, but whose notes floated
long after, as if there was something
I could yet retrieve. In a tidal lullabye
of voices I cannot hear, the many mouths
of the sea open and close, open and close
lips I cannot read.
Another poem from my chapbook “Irresistible”, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in March. Like to read more? Pre-orders (upon which the print run is based) end soon – January 12th! May this new year be as exciting for you as it is for me!
Once, numbed and split apart
with all the casualness of a letter-opener
firm against the fat contents of a long-awaited envelope,
my body revealed a face,
the face of my son about to be born.
The doctor was startled to see his eyes,
already open, intent upon him,
eyes that spoke of other worlds,
of a reason for being, being here, being now,
his seven pounds a screaming missive from most high.
For ten years past, night after night,
he keeps his eyes open as long as he can,
thoughtful dots in the dark, for the day
could never extend itself enough to please him
nor to hold his magical masterly plans
and too, there are worries: of earthquakes,
a friendship gone wrong, a love that might
disappear unintentionally, like a mom
mowed down by a car or a dad who worked
too hard, a stammer that won’t, and more.
Eventually, my own body weary from the effort
of imposing a sleep he does not want,
I come to turn out his light and find
his eyes closed at last, limbs limp, seeming
grateful for the slow and slower breath, the
weight of them against the hockey stick
sheets like four pucks landed in their nets.
Sometimes the curtain lifts a little, letting in
the gasp and sigh of the world he’ll inherit,
and out skate his dreams.
This poem was first published in an earlier version
under the title “My Son, Unable To Sleep” in CV2 in 2001.
Like Mona Lisa
How beautiful…….she sleeps,
gathering the early light
like a sail filling with wind,
her face composing
its first smile
of the day:
little boat loaded
with last night’s dreams.
Like Mona Lisa,
whose fathomless eyes are a wake
from the little boat sailing
back and forth
from secret to secret
right in front of us, turning us
into a crowd of craning necks,
so much wanting
Looking at a loved one sleeping was the impetus for this poem. It won second place in a contest by Pandora’s Collective and was published in 2012.