Friday, January 09, 2009

The Light at the End by Lyn Lifshin

Light at the End
The Jesus Poems
Lyn Lifshin
Clevis Hook Press 2008
ISBN 978-9821718-0-6

Review by Irene Koronas

wow. this book of poems took me by surprise. I read through a few times before I let go of my own attitude of what was being written, once I let go did I found a sardonic collection of situations, a continual jab at the preverbal relationships women and men sometimes have. Lifshin cuts open all the wounds and images of how the sexes may act on occasion. there are, the younger than mary episodes, jesus running buck shot over innocence and innocence growing bitter. jesus represents some men:

“…some how there’d always been some
woman who found him divine
I did, for longer than many
marriages last. when opened
to him, the most ordinary
days seemed magical. blood
on our shin…”

there is enough irreverence between these sheets, pages, to feed all the readers who enjoy punk rock or hippie flowers. if the poems were set to music people might throw themselves into or onto the audience with reassurance of being caught, carried up and out:

“…me bareback, our lips and kisses reins
‘I’ve touched your perfect body,’ he sang better
than Leonard Cohen himself and in his passion,
yelped yippy I o and I squealed oh Jesus
and Christ and Lord until I was hoarse.”

it takes a few readings for me to place jesus as a Spanish lover or all the lovers or all the men the author can conjure but when I place the poems in perspective I start to laugh.

the poems are clever, interesting, and not charming. Lifshin ‘pulls off’ another book of difference. the reader will ride a stormy night or a bright blinding morning after…:

“I don’t care if it rains or freezes
as long as I’ve got my plastic Jesus”

he has risen to
walk-where the
hell has he been,
what’s happened,
our nation has turned
its back on Jesus
lost its way
sideshow suckers,
heathens killing
babies, presidents
with their pants
around their ankles
I’m on the road
that leads to Jesus
send 50 dollars to
my 800 number and
get yourself a
good road map

poet preacher Lifshin, like a sharp shooter who can hit a nickel dead center from 10 miles away, nails it

Irene Koronas/ Ibbetson Update/ Jan 2009

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