Category Archives: poems by Lynn Buckler Walsh

lost

In the bottom of a cardboard box,
a photograph of a girl.

She’s fixed in that one-hundredth of a second
– a sketch, a pencil of lines and light
on the cusp of adolescence.

I want to reverse engineer her,
pull her apart piece by piece,
see what made her tick,
discover if imitation is possible.

Because decades on,
I can look in any mirror and see her face
dressed in the contours and constraints
of adulthood, and not find her.


crossing the road

Today, I’m back at my desk pulling together threads of notes I’ve made and not had the time, of late, to develop. This small piece, grafted and no doubt in need of more work, is an imitation of the form and shape of a poem by William Carlos Williams which appears below. Whatever it takes to get words on the page. Whatever it takes.

Crossing the Road

The mobility scooter stops

at the crossing.

Its rider wears sunglasses,

sleeves billow.

A wide-brimmed hat covers

thinning hair.

In the front basket, stocks of

toilet paper glint white.

She grips a cigarette between

her lips and waits

for the signal to go.

 

Proletarian Portrait by William Carlos Williams

A big young bareheaded woman

in an apron

Her hair slicked back standing

on the street

One stockinged foot toeing

the sidewalk.

Her shoe in her hand. Looking

intently into it

She pulls out the paper insole

to find the nail

That has been hurting her


two women in Lisbon

Two women in Lisbon-1

Each morning

they appear on the balcony.

In matching white robes,

and with similar stance,

they lean on the railing and watch

as the street stirs to its daily dance.

I observe

this conversational ritual,

this picture of intimacy,

and marvel at the worth of things familiar.


sounding the coal: Lambton, 1889

sounding the coal

Lambton, 1889

Each day in flannel shirts and moleskin pants,

they ride down in an iron cage

to hew and harvest carbon crops laid down

in the late Permian age.

Along the face, incessant dark encloses these Cimmerians.

They raise their picks and chance their fate

to sound the coal for signs of vacant space.

This is where the prayers take place,

in this Stygian chapel of the working class.

Lamps illuminate wet walls and streaks

of vitrinite light up like ink-stained glass.

Still fills the room.

The heading weeps.

Walls glisten.

Flames flicker.

Listen.


brave

 

We stop at the edge of the reef

just short of the ledge that drops

deep and steep off the continental shelf.

As the boat’s motor cuts out,

waves of doubt carry away

any skerrick of bravado lurking inside me.

The others are stripping down to bathers

and enthusiastically donning rented masks and snorkels.

(Is there anything less hygienic?)

Before long, they are all in the sea

bobbing like corks,

eyes down on the colonies of coral,

backs exposed to the equatorial sun.

The swell rocks the vessel, up, then down.

Repeat.

Now, being in the ocean, rather than on it,

seems like a viable option.

 

Beneath the surface, snapper and wrasse.

Yellows, blues, greens, anemones,

sweetlips and parrot fish, unicorn noses.

It’s a feast for the eyes

of those who pass the bravery test,

even if what it takes is a buoyancy vest.

 


Sri Lankan inspired haiku

 

along Galle Face Walk

umbrellas shelter couples

snuggling in the heat.

 

woman crosses road,

hand raised to oncoming bus,

– Colombo traffic.

 

men walk slowly in

a funeral procession

from the Galle Fort Mosque

 

preparing Koththu,

cutting up vegetables,

chopping roti strips.

 

Sri Lankan road rules.

vehicles take up road space

in pincer movements.

 

signs on the rail line

– lack of metal, weak sleepers –

reduce engine speed


the blessing of the Sofreh

 

Laid out before the bride and groom

on a beach of soft Sri Lankan sand,

a Persian wedding spread

– the Sofreh Aghd.

 

A mirror reflects sunset’s glow.

A candle flickers light.

A sacred text contains old truths.

All adorned with sweets and jewels

in hues of silver, blue and white.

 

And there are foods that grace this spread –

pomegranates, rose apples, herbs and seeds,

walnuts and almonds, pastries and breads.

 

A tiny glass of honey waits for finger dips,

the sugar cone for granules to be ground above their heads.

 

As night falls on Ahungalla,

all present here are blessed

as witnesses –

to this Sofreh,

this marriage,

this love.


Myanmar inspired haiku

 

 

in the evening at

the Shwedagon Pagoda

women sweep in lines.

 

across Myanmar

gold htis adorn pagodas,

precious parasols.

 

from her cafe seat

the Shih Tzu in the pink dress

barks at the street dogs.

 

on a Yangon street

men adjust their longyi knots

catching a warm breeze.

 

Myanmar women

decorate their faces with

yellow thanaka.

 


Ichiban-Kan, Yangon

Near Aung San Stadium

at the Ichiban-Kan restaurant,

Japanese businessmen

bow, exchange business cards,

smoke filter cigarettes

and giggle over their gyoza.

 

The proprietor,

elegant in black dress and white pearls,

misses nothing;

watches each slurp of ramen,

accounts for every sip of sake,

notices any slip in standards.

For her customers

this place is like a tiny talisman,

comfortably tucked into a pocket of Yangon.


on Nai Yang beach in Thailand

late in the afternoon,

bathed in sweat and caked in dust,

workers from Myanmar board trucks

and travel from construction sites

to their overnight quarters,

while I float,

suspended under sunset sky,

in the waters

of a sea, dense with salt.