92 Rapple Drive

by Lyn Lifshin

Review by Norman J. Olson

Ernest Hemingway famously stated that "I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows." Lyn Lifshin is a minimalist, slice of life poet in that same long and strong American tradition of spare realism. In Lyn's poetry, the images do not convey meaning. Rather, the images are the meaning. When she states that "geese / were black ovals / against lightened gray" we do not have to search for a meaning or a symbolic resonance but rather close our eyes and picture the black ovals and the lightened gray. As our earthly encounters with sensual experience have meaning for us, Lyn's poetic and beautiful images have meaning and speak to that basic human core where we can not help but read the world in sensual symbolic images.

So, the symbolism in this poetry is deep and human rather than facile and literary. Fine, but that is only the start of the wonder of these poems. In this new book, we have a poet with the amazing ability to bring bright, wafer thin slices of life into deep symbolic conversation, but she also talks explicitly about her own life. In these highly personal poems, we see a woman who remembers her lover's fingers and now has grown beyond embarrassment into the fullness of experience of the good and comfortable as well as the violent and awful that fill all of our lives. What I mean here is that I responded strongly to the narrative element in these poems, the disjointed memoir of a woman who has seen the wine bottle break on the wall and wonders if the stain will bleed through, a woman who wants peace and a warm blanket by the fire, the fingers of an imaginary lover, a cat purring softly in the corner; but has felt the thistle in the garden and knows that the cat is already diabetic, sick and facing that same challenge we all face as time speeds up and we are whirled around the sun year after year in our living rooms and yards.

This is a fine book by a mature and gifted poet. I am not unbiased, as I am a long time admirer of Lyn's poetry but, for the reader that wants to walk into the life of the poet and see the spinning seasons through new eyes, I suggest 92 Rapple Drive, a fine collection by a poet who is an American master.

Norman J. Olson is a 58-year-old poet, artist, and civil service worker. He published his first poem in 1984, after many years of submission and rejection. Now he's been published in over 15 countries. Hundreds of his poems and drawings appear online, in print, and showcased. Check his website for more information.