Lynn Finger

Issue 21

A Song of Sickness and Healing

There was no cry of hawking girl. Ephesus says: even marble
turns to chalk. I would show you the invisible tokens of sorrow

and joy—grief-scars and love-scars. Show me how ruin makes
a home out of hip bones. They will touch the bark and feel each

age of the tree fly undisturbed into them. Happy prints of an invisible
time are illumined. I wanted a scar just like my father’s, bold

and appalling, a mushroom explosion, that said I too was at war.
As though life were more convincing resonating like a blade.

Who knows whether the sea heals or corrodes?: what the sun burns up
of it, the moon puts back. Wind in the cottonwoods wakes me to a day

so thin its breastbone shows, so paid out it shakes me free of its blue dust.
I never knew I was also a lamp — until the light fell out of me,

dripped down my thigh, flew up in me, caught in my throat like a canary.
It goes without saying, it stays without saying wind, spirits, tumbleweeds, pain.

Everyone wanted to be soft cooing sympathies. Any message would do,
you say, tiny jeweled tears permanently etched in the corners of your eyes.


Source & Method

I wanted to write about sickness / healing. I created this cento from fourteen poets, in a modified sonnet. Each line is used in a way other than how it appears in its original poem.
“Plague” by Leslie Cross
“As If Made from Blue Legos” by Susan Firer
“Scars” by Richard Jones
“A Little Closer to the Edge” by Ocean Vuong
“Half Omen Half Hope” by Joanna Klink
“A Plagued Journey” by Maya Angelou
“Scars” by Truon Tran
“Risk” by C.K. Williams
“Plague of Dead Sharks” Alan Dugan
“Healing Improvisation of Hair” by Jay Wright
“My Brother My Wound” by Natalie Diaz
“Healing Gila” by Lawson Fusao Inada
“In the Hospital” by Chen Chen
“The Mummy” by Jessica Hagedor

Lynn Finger’s poetry has appeared in the Journal of Compressed Arts and Ekphrastic Review. Lynn is one of the founding editors of the journal Harpy Hybrid Review. She mentors writers in prison.

Photo by Luis Villasmil

Lynn Finger

Issue 20

Awkward Goodbyes

Summer had been so hot the things we touched burned our hands.
The sky wasn’t black or blue but the dying green of night.
Stars had closed their eyes or sheathed their knives.

I used to think pain was meaningful. I no longer
think pain is meaningful.

The flawed moon acts on the truth, and makes
an autumn of tentative silences.
Sort of a solution to awkward goodbyes.

I held a penny on my
tongue. The taste shocked me,
its brown-gold sweet. I suppose
there are grips from which
even angels cannot fly.

Did you think I would not change?

Source & Method

Natalie Diaz, “My Brother at 3 am,” Denise Levertov, “Everything that Acts is Actual,” William Hathaway, “Betrayal,” Hera Lindsay Bird, “Pyramid Scheme,” Faith Shearin, “Blue Elvis,” Cathy Linh Che, “I Walked through the Trees, Mourning,” Mary Szybist, “In Tennessee I Found a Firefly.”

Lynn Finger holds a B.A. in Humanities. One of her poems won second place this year in the college publication, Sandscript, and third place in the Regional Division. Lynn is in a group that mentors writers in prison.

Photo by Siora Photography