Today a friend, old before her time,
passed by—younger, it seemed.
Losing her husband, she had lost
her footing in the world for years,
change—the stranger most feared:
hidden in dark rooms everywhere.
I was struck by her face: wax-white
and smooth, like a cupped candle,
her eyes, calm reflective pools
no longer hooded
or stoned with grief,
as if she had sunk through her own tears
to the cold bottom of that well
until it was emptied
of the one held most dear,
and stood now, looking up,
drinking from the buckets
of light that filled it.
Another older poem, included in my chapbook “Stealing Eternity”.
Children grown, two out of three gone,
we drag our feet putting outside lights up,
buying and decorating a tree.
We settle for the bushes, a whimsical snaking
of lit Smarties among leaves, get the smallest tree
nobody else wants. That stormy year
our street lost power as Christmas day turned
to evening, and we had a dozen hungry guests
roaming the house, bumping into things.
Because the gas stove had been cooking a turkey
for hours, it continued, and we cheered
the range burners could be lit with a match.
The two gas fireplaces burned more sedately—
fan flow interrupted—and of course there were
candles on the dining room table anyway.
My husband fired up a generator, plugged in
a lamp, stereo and the bulbous bush lights; orange
and yellow cords extended everywhere.
I imagined our neighbours gazing out
from dark windows at the bright cosmos
of our house, the raucous hum of
determination in the air. If Christmas
was all about seeing the light
in each other, it didn’t fail to surprise:
how happy it made me, having a reason
to move closer, peer and be peered at,
glimpse among flickering faces the child
I was before my heart got wrapped in
scar tissue, who once got a letter from Santa
saying he was on his way, and didn’t I
then on the eve of my seventh Christmas
see him tiptoe past my bedroom door!
I miss the girl who believing, saw.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Also, my chapbook “Irresistible” is still available for pre-orders until January 12, 2018. Since advance sales determine the pressrun, such purchases make a huge difference! In the mood? Many thanks – you can reserve a copy here:
I sit down beside my elderly father,
quietly clasp his hand, cross
and then uncross my legs.
Long flight to get here, long
battle with emphysema and
an overworked heart for him.
The hospital door that swings
both ways for me, obdurately
keeps a good soldier in.
Not close enough, this chair,
and impossible for us to hug,
dear dad tied down—
tubes coming and going.
All a man can do to break free
is look out the window,
so I do too, and with him
simply breathe in the blue
of a cloudless sky,
“scattered light,” science says,
that our eyes make into
an unrippled sea—but
there’s never been such a blue
falling through me, so endless
a promise of more—
slowly it fills the room,
steadies the listing boat
neaped on a perilous shore.
This poem is included in my chapbook “Irresistible”, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in March, 2018, and available for pre-order here until January 12, 2018. Since advance sales determine the pressrun, my thanks to all who take a leap of faith and buy my book!
“Lynne Burnett is astonishing. I cannot think of another poet who writes with more humanity. Wisdom is a word we seldom associate with poetry, but she reminds us that simply seeing the world the way it is can be a profoundly moral and life affirming act. It’s what happens when compassion marries irony. The love child is this wondrous little book.” —D.G Geis, author Fire Sale (Tupelo Press/Leapfolio) and Mockumentary (Main Street Rag).
The poems inside Lynne Burnett’s chapbook live up to the collection title. Irresistible. Here is a poet demonstrating her considerable talents. There is much music and rhythm in these pages, and keen insight to the ebb and flow of relationships and heartbreak. I was particularly taken by the deft handling of the near miss in “Mute with Thanks.” And I was moved by the poignant stories in the title poem, “Irreplaceable” and “On Hearing That a Friend’s Husband Has Died in His Sleep.” Even the table of contents in this lovely book is a form of call and response. Her imagery and language resonated with me long after I finished reading. –Devi S. Laskar, Author of “Gas & Food, No Lodging” (Finishing Line Press, 2017) and “Anastasia Maps” (Finishing Line Press, 2018)
Lynne Burnett takes us deep into the world of what is, what isn’t and what might have been, of accidents and unplanned incidents “where we fall without falling,” and death rings “a bell that won’t stop singing of loss.” Love is coupled with death here, and life is “an unfinished dream.” Burnett pulls us into the flow of the inevitable, where we feel the unheard and hear the unmentioned in the in-between, with powerfully rendered, beautifully phrased and sonically perfect observations. Irresistible is just that – an irresistible, stunning debut. –Robert Okaji, author of From Every Moment a Second (Finishing Line Press, 2017)
Here is a sample poem from the book, with an audio recording:
across the dewy lawn,
the grass riotous with light
that began its journey toward her
over four billion years ago,
light that will burn five billion
years more after she’s gone,
like candle to candle lit
my pixie daughter’s a thirsty wick
for joy, sure any life glad to be
is all that matters,
and I want to tell her yes
while light is leading her heart
out its small window
of time, and blade by blade
from beaded grass her
own glass slippers made,
before gravity weighs in.
Over the next couple of months I will continue to post samples. Thank you to all who find my happy news “irresistible”!
A couple of hundred miles up the coast
two weeks into a summer of cruising
we end our day of fishing with a movie.
But the shouting and shooting carve sharp
initials into the tree-deep silence here,
so I step outside, right onto the glittering
dance floor of an olive-black sky
on a clear, good night. My mind whirls,
words falling far away, then my fears,
then even the best of the best in me, all
dwarfed by this lavish sprinkling of stars:
confetti of the gods, tossed long ago upon
a lifted veil—marrying me now to the
faintest glimmer of worlds beyond ours.
I gaze, it seems forever, a moth burning
to remember a dream wings can’t forget.
I am thrilled to have this poem nominated for the Best of the Net 2017 Anthology by editor Cristina Norcross of the Blue Heron Review, where it appeared July 2016!
Snowflakes feathering the trail
below the highway. A young
fellow, toqued and sweatered,
strides out of the woods
where he has been camping
for some time. Now on a search
for empty cans and bottles,
he asks me what I think
of last night’s news (which I,
watching American Idol, missed).
He tells me Iran warned the United
States it would feel the pain
if tough measures were imposed
against the Islamic Republic
for its nuclear program,
and ponders aloud the grave
possibility of a third world war
before drifting away,
back into his solitary life
which, like mine, lives
inside a bigger story
that is always ripe for change.
He knows the Earth he wants
to inherit, having made his
living room into a grove
of trees meadowed with stars,
stars loved more than priests
for their enduring benediction
of light, their twinkling
testaments of hope.
Trees whose raised roots
rope roughly into pews.
The ground that knows
no names, but keeps
a footprint. Wind
that is a window.
The darkness humming
with a billion unheard voices
when a different congregation
is invited in.
This poem was first published by New Verse News in 2006 and then by New Millennium Writings as an Honorable Mention in 2012.