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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

At a Reading; You Walk Away from Your Family

By: Lisa Flynn

At a Reading

A cocktail crowd

competes with the poet’s voice,

and I’m lost

to where words start and end.

I cup my hand shell-shape

behind my ear, 

beckon sound closer.

Unlearning how to hear,

I am learning

how to nod

as words unravel

into sounds, roll over

my body. I am learning

how to stop

holding my breath

under cresting waves

of deconstructed language.

I must look so benign…

as if this isn’t a death-grin

as if I don’t know

I just inhaled

the whole damn ocean. 

You Walk Away from Your Family

along the shore, low tide-strewn with dried seaweed, rattle-black skate egg cases, purses for devil or mermaid, tendrils thrown wild. You toe a translucent horseshoe crab husk. The sun spins you giddy. You’re 12 years old and thirty meters ahead of their slow walking. You pluck a cabochon of polished sea glass off the wrack-line, slip it in your shirt pocket, a doctor or farmer, planting heart or seed. So far behind, your parents look like distant sails. You nearly step on a Portuguese Man-O-War, puffed and gelid, a sand-scalded rainbow, glistening. Deader than plastic bags your grandmother saves, rinses, hangs, saves again. When your sister approaches the corpse, you think of your grandmother swimming in a sea-field of jellies, somewhere off England. Her refugee year, 1939, between housekeeping jobs, between Germany and here. You linger, warn your little sister – even dead, those things can kill you – turn again down the beach. If you lose them in your wake, you’ll meet them in the shadow of Orleans Light. You’ll always find them, you think they are always just behind you.


Lisa Schapiro Flynn has poems published or forthcoming in journals including The Crab Creek Review, Pretty Owl Poetry, Noble/Gas Quarterly, UCity Review, Menacing Hedge, 13th Moon: a Feminist Literary Magazine, and others. Her poem received the Honorable Mention in the Crab Creek Review 2018 Poetry Contest, judged by Maggie Smith. She lives in the far suburbs of New York City, with her husband, child, and two rescued dogs.


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