by Lyn Lifshin

Something he’d picked up
and gently carried to the
closet. When I was no
longer something he half
wanted to wear, held so
delicately, smiled at like
when he came in later to
the reading, said he would
have brought the Margarita
but he didn’t know if I
liked it on the rocks, how I
felt about salt. Before I
was no longer my jacket,
darkly mysterious, soft but
with a musky smell, flexible
enough to do what he
wanted with. Before that I
was all animal, wild. I was prey
he was on a safari for, caught
in his crosshairs. He could
taste my hair thru e mail.
Once he tracked me as far as
San Antonio, couldn’t
find me. This time I was the
lure, the flash of a few verbs and
he canceled classes, took off
work. I was something he
couldn’t stroke like the leather.
He was used to things being
fatal, leaps and cracks. He was
a journalist, wanted no
emotion to get in the way
of the facts.

(“When I Was No Longer My Leather Jacket” was originally published in Poetry Bay and Lyn Lyfshin’s book Persephone printed by Red Hen Press and is reprinted here today with permission from the poet.)

Lyn Lifshin has written more than 125 books and edited 4 anthologies of women writers. Her poems have appeared in most poetry and literary magazines in the U.S.A, and her work has been included in virtually every major anthology of recent writing by women. Lyn Lifshin has also taught poetry and prose writing for many years at universities, colleges and high schools, and has been Poet in Residence at the University of Rochester, Antioch, and Colorado Mountain College. Winner of numerous awards including the Jack Kerouac Award for her book Kiss The Skin Off, Lyn is the subject of the documentary film Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. For her absolute dedication to the small presses which first published her, and for managing to survive on her own apart from any major publishing house or academic institution, Lifshin has earned the distinction “Queen of the Small Presses.” She has been praised by Robert Frost, Ken Kesey and Richard Eberhart, and Ed Sanders has seen her as “a modern Emily Dickinson.” Her prizewinning book (Paterson Poetry Award) Before It’s Light was published Winter 1999-2000 by Black Sparrow Press.

Editor’s Note: It is an honor to share with you the work of Lyn Lifshin today. A renowned poet, Lifshin has earned her reputation as a true wordsmith. With moments like “how I felt about salt” and “flexible enough to do what he wanted with, ” today’s poem at once delves effortlessly into a vignette of a relationship and simultaneously tells the story behind the scenes.

Want to read more by and about Lyn Lifshin?
Lyn Lifshin’s official website

About Sivan Butler-Rotholz

Sivan is the Managing Editor of the Saturday Poetry Series on As It Ought To Be and holds an MFA from Brooklyn College. She is a professor, writer, editor, comic artist, and attorney emerita. She is also the founder of Reviving Herstory. Sivan welcomes feedback, poetry submissions, and solicitations of her writing via email at sivan.sf [at] gmail [dot] com.
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  1. Miriam Sagan says:

    I just posted an interview with her at Miriam’s Well (

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