Lyn Moir

Lyn Moir

About me — I spent my childhood between US and Britain, mainly in Scotland — St Bride's School, Helensburgh; Western High School, Baltimore, MD; Vassar College, NY; St. Andrews University. Degree in Spanish.

My poetry is fuelled by travel, both in childhood — wartime crossings of Atlantic, once in an aircraft carrier; and in widowhood — a considerable time in what was then Eastern Europe, between 1984 and 1998 - and lately by the rediscovery of an old love. Also by anything else that takes my fancy.

Here are some of my poems, two from Eastern Europe and one from Southampton where I lived until recently.

Prague: Charles Bridge

They've let their guard down: no more telescopes
or microphones trained from the towers. As stalls
spring up like weeds, butterfly fingers dip
slyly into each strident foreign flower.

Severity has turned to carnival,
performances from end to end provide
stone kings with court and jesters once again,
with jewels, real and falsified; broad smiles

on every face, acquisitive, designed
to part discerning punters from their cash,
smiles gimcrack as the wares. Tourists don't care,
the city's spell disguises tawdry art,

and who'd deny them magic in their search
for an "experience" to gloat over
at home? But on the bridge just as dawn burns
the dark away, when it is naked, stripped

of everything but saints austerely lined,
monarchs, astrologers and charlatans
still prowl the royal route, ignored in turn
by sundry drunken remnants of the night.

Brando's Hat — 2001

The secret policeman's neck massage

They're taking us in circles. We're the last
load of the year. The quota filled,
the borders close when we depart.
Right from the start the auguries
are bad: the runway shared
with three thin cows, one shepherd,
a bewildered flock of sheep.

The country's beautiful but scarred
with concrete bunkers, the people scared
to speak to us. Tirana's barred
although it's on our destination boards.
So we go round and round.

Pitch dark by three, and vehicles don't use
their lights, what vehicles there are:
twelve army lorries, Chinese-built,
one clapped-out twenties car
are all we've met today.
The potholes knitted up with tar
approximate a road. Tar's easy here,
it grows like daisies. Nodding donkeys pull
out oil from barren landscapes, bubbling
in pools over the soil. The smell of fuel
brings back the queasiness.

We judder on. This ancient bus
has worse suspension than a rusty tractor.
The stench of petrol, raw, is just too much:
I'm face down in a ditch, horizon spinning...
I see the polished boots, suppress a shiver,
security is not a factor now.
Firm hands support my head, their thumbs
rotating, soothing, smoothing with another
rounding motion, circular diversion:
the secret policeman's neck massage,
more tender than a lover's.

Published in Seam 8, Jan 1998

Southampton Boat Show

No need to see the signs. You know it's on:
no parking slots in town post-9 a.m.,
and groups of GoreTex-covered clones
cutting through Above Bar shoppers
in a bow wave of words, force-ten tones
piercing the calm September morning.

Red, white and navy blue. You'd think
just one boat's crew would choose
a uniform in something off the wall
like purple. Sometimes their wellies
are yellow. Their foghorn cries
are of wind speed, staysheets and booze.

They ooze prosperity, as if their sails
were stitched from fifties, brass polished
by underlings. Cheeks claret-red from blasts
of wind or too much socialising,
they lurch in looped sloop slope
towards the certainty of masts.

Poems on this page Copyright © 2001 Lyn Moir

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Last modified: March 28th 2005