Literary House

Poetry by

Linda Lerner



back to the streets

every few years   graffiti walled free spoken

morality cleanses & depending on which

side of the alphabet street I'm job seeking on

learn  to navigate my way

down the correct language  

for what will pay the rent

on an  apartment that doesn't exist

at that price

my mother's warning:

the more you get the more you want

about sex... becomes about everything now

urgent need replaces want

I've walked miles of cyber hot paved concrete

burning the skin off

my soul streets

till I feel the full moon

on a blazing hot summer's day

sitting in an outdoor cafe drinking coffee

walked out the loneliness

that's not as bad

since my lover unfantasized

& worse since he slipped back

streets on which I've sheltered

someone from death in poems

I cannot write enough of to keep him breathing

pulled off  Houdini escapes in  

street jazz sounds that feed me till I'm famished

back where I started from

the  wheel keeps turning


Nobody knows

It's like ella singing the blues

becoming lady day or sassy sara

a hussy men's eyes sneak out

of a  hole in the wall

to taste her strange fruit

ella looking like somebody's cleaning lady

in a flowered house dress who

never braided or afro cut her hair

nobody thought was pretty enough

                        to make it

ella  she never wishes she were

stepping up to the mic

to give them her poet's voice

play words like a musician

who'd never force a sax

to sound like a trumpet

she throws out a riff   etta picks it up  

dinah  comes swinging through  

and  billy  wapped in smokey blue

black bodies swinging from trees

through her voice

billy alive in the poet's blues:

nobody knows the trouble I've had


Copyright 2006 Linda Lerner

All Rights Reserved



Linda Lerner,  born and educated in New York City, has published eleven collections of her poetry. The  most recent: City Woman (March Street Press, Fall, 2006),Because  You Can't I will (Pudding House,2005), The Bowery And Other Poems (March Street Press, 2004) a Small Press Pick of the month, A Koan For Samsara (Ibbetson Street Press, 2003) and Greatest Hits (Pudding House Press, 2002.  In 1995 she and Andrew Gettler began Poets on the Line, ( the first poetry anthology on the Net for which she received two grants. She's published in the New York Quarterly, Onthebus, Louisiana Review, Paterson Literary Review, Ragged Lion Anthology, and forthcoming in Tribes, Van Gogh's Ear,  

She has read widely across the United states including the Knitting Factory, The Bowery Poetry club, Cornelia St. Cafe, in N.Y.C. Stone Soup Poets in Boston, The Barron Arts Center in N.J., & at the Cherry Valley Arts Festival in 1998, a 30 year tribute to Beat & Bohemian influence.

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