Harlan County, Kentucky native George Ella Lyon’s recent books are Back: Poems (Wind Publications) and Harvest of Fire: New and Selected Work of Lee Howard (MotesBooks), which she edited.  A picture book, "Which Side Are You On?"  The Story of a Song (Cinco Puntos Press), will appear later this year, and She Let Herself Go is due out from the LSU Poetry Series in 2011.   A freelance writer and teacher, Lyon lives in Lexington with her husband, musician and writer Steve Lyon.



Job Description


Am I writing too many poems
strewing them across my desk
like crusts after feast?

This isn’t a real question
of course.    It’s a metaphor
which just kisses the air beside

the cheek of Truth
since she never will let you
kiss her  You know how she is

an energy field unto herself
a goddess with dirty fingernails
Walking One with Roots

she has been named in sea caves
and TV studios           in podcasts
from Rockefeller Center      

There she stands in her
fiery sandals   Who could get
near her really?           Go ye into all
the world and try to slip your arm
around the waist of Truth and see
where it gets you    Backhanded into
Hoboken   Mopping scotch rings off
the Casbah with a wet rag
Just stand by the cathedral turnstile

subway door with your purse
of words         just be ready
if she nods     to spend it all




How It Is

My hair is tired of my head
My head is sick of my thoughts
My thoughts are mad at my feelings
My feelings have had it with my body

(How else are they going to have it?)

My body is fed up with my feelings
My feelings are put out by my thoughts
My thoughts are grumped up in my head
My head is overcome by my hair

My feet would say goodbye to my legs
which keep following them everywhere

My legs are burdened with my hips
who inherit from my stomach
after a gut-wrenching trip

My stomach says my lungs
have an over-inflated sense of themselves

And everybody’s just about batty
with my heart’s incessant pounding
and my throat’s wrestling with my voice

my voice the only one of this crew
that might make it out




After I Offer to Listen to Spirits Around a Table, They Say

Do you know how long I’ve been waiting?

Do you care that my necklace is too tight, my shoes made of ice? 

Does it matter to you that the last time anybody looked
in my head, there was no fire escape?  Yes, I didn’t think so.

That’s why all those people moved into the tenement of your ribs. 

You have to pay attention.  Even if you don’t know the language. 

Which corner is this?

It’s the one where you see yourself go by in the car. 

The one where your ticket says wedding/funeral. 

The one where you scrape burned laughter out of the pot. 

The one that’s a field of wildflowers.

Put your back into it.  I will quote you vertebraetim. 

It’s too late to be afraid. 

I’ve seen the eyes in the palms of your hands. 

I’ve climbed your tree. 

So just take that nail out of your tongue and speak.