Lyn Lifshin’s poems are continued from the previous page.
When the Long Gone Lover
E-Mails from the Coast
by Lyn Lifshin

as he has, over and
over, how many years.
I wrote the last night
before he left, “wildly
devastated, terrible,”
in an old spiral diary
before he began years
fantasizing perfect
lips, my cougar skin.
Long distance always,
letters to him came
back Return to Sender.
E-mail, returned as
Daemon mailer. Now,     
a specific town to
reconnect. It’s been
some time since I could
say nothing’s scared
me yet so I could
send him pieces of
cloth and leather from
what I wore nights he
still remembers twisted.
Let him imagine the
gold rug, the wine we
drank too much of.
Let’s go on, get high
remembering my
nipples while it’s
enough for me to
think of him
thinking of this

by Lyn Lifshin

you catch a whiff
of rose and our knees crumble
I’d like to say it took one night for
you to call but it’s been years
You did the work, making me
up as you wanted. Then, you said
I whined. I drank too much.
You’ve even got the color
of my dress wrong: I never
wear orange. But if it pleases you,
I’ll play along like any woman
faking orgasm. You think my
cheetah thighs, yours then,
were the silkiest, my mouth a
national treasure.
There was
you write, my high heels
so close to your face.                     
So what if I was in ballet
shoes or sandals. (I’ll           
go along, knowing
the farther I get from you
in time the more
you want me)

by Lyn Lifshin

“It’s all dead girls and horses,”
he said. The first parts were
always better, the red lipstick
girl on the verge of a kill, the  
horse as a yearling. Something
you’ll never see again. You
can’t help the endings, always
the same. Never as good as
the “what’s about to.” Like
water roses die in, the stink
makes you wince. Like certain
relationships. Read about Ruffian,
the freakish beauty, over and
over but it always ends the
same. Like the fights, dead-
ended as Sylvia or the horse,
I love the photograph of Sylvia
on the beach in a bathing
beauty pose, her lips red, ready
to be kissed. On the verge of
who knew what, the way
Ruffian seemed almost
ghostly, suspended in air, a-
bout to be myth. I like to think
of that first Christmas on
Union St when you bought
me flowers. Everyone
said they could feel our love

by Lyn Lifshin

if you had a favorite
pillow or worn cotton
shirt it would be ok
about loving it. But
cat love is a risky
choice. It sounds so
sentimental and this
isn’t even a dead or
dying cat. Let’s say it
is not a cat but say
an old bathrobe you
feel comfortable in
as a broken in lover
where it’s ok to be
quiet, not charming.
Let’s call my cat a
bathrobe and think
of curling deep in
soft chenille—make
it rose for the hint
this cold March day
of new buds unfolding.
Think of her as some
thing to wear, which
I do. Haven’t you
made a blanket of
your dog or cat, let
him lie on you like a
lover, felt its heart and
breath moving with
your breath, so close
to the parts of you
that you share with
your lover that when
you sleep her soft fur
could be his fingers?


Lyn Lifshin has edited four anthologies and published more than
120 books.  Her most recent books are
The Licorice Daughter:
My Year with Ruffian
(Texas Review Press) and Another Woman
Who Looks Like Me
(Black Sparrow).  Her last two Black Sparrow
Cold Comfort and Before It’s Light, won Paterson Review
Awards.  More information is available at   

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 1, Number 2
(Fall 2006)

Copyright © 2006
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.
Now When I Don’t
Want You Blues
When I Was Writing Poems
About the Dead Horse
Cat Love