Lynne Thompson


“I’m related to the earliest 
of times…and to the latest”*

for Charlotte Mae
b. May 2021 

Because I’m wrinkles & funk away from her new skin
and scent, I think first of Charlotte Mae every morning
upon waking with awe and a kind of envy. I wonder
what is she thinking? (if thinking is something a barely
days’ old can do)—more likely she is  f e e l i n g  that
breeze that has brought her to this particular peculiar
where she’s already aging, aging being the only note
I can whistle with any certitude. How soon will I have
to tell her the only difference between her double chin
and mine is regret, surprise, suspension; between her
tender, soft toes and mine with their bunions is where
am I headed
and how will I know the long way back?

Charlotte’s nose is an abalone button, her mouth a bow.
Broken-hearted, my sniffer and my lips have been parted
by distaste & disappointment. But hue of early sunrise is
her skin yet to know what will cause it to darken: slights
and the transience of love; the letdown of days—their
numbers accumulating and most of them unexceptional;
each successive day never quite long enough for singing
although when I look at her, I hear lullaby.      l u l l a b y


*quoting Henry David Thoreau: “When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest of times, and to the latest.”

Variations on Lines by Linda Gregerson 

Like the woman
   so fallen out of practice
     she can no longer

and the important
   point here
     is practice.

For a woman without
   practice cannot
     unbuckle, forsake the grim

or shake the shadows.
   Or maybe the point
     is can no longer

as in can no longer
   be a pigeon, a snare
     with no place

in the band. To be like
   a woman
is to be
     becoming, ever spun

around, the motto on
   an unguided path, open-
     throated, release & a fever. 

Magdalene Blues 

Whenever anyone says I’ve found Jesus, I always
wonder where has Jesus been all this time by which

I mean to ask has Jesus been on a holiday in Machu
Picchu or in Russia’s Black Dolphin Prison trying to

convert the inconvertible? And I also mean to ask:
why is the someone who said it saying it? Is she a full-

time trollop or a woman tired of living as a legend?
This need for finding is a most curious thing.

Maybe what’s been lost is something someone knew
about all along but failed to report to CNN. Or is it

something that never existed though someone always
insists it did? Like love (always an excellent bet) that’s

gone lost or is only observable in the rear view mirror
of some previously-owned Infiniti. And once found,

what’s to be done with either love or Jesus? Both have
proven to be Big Mama Thornton blue yet they snag

the mind like a fear you’ll burn in someone else’s hell;
a worry that beloveds appear closer than they truly are. 


Lynne Thompson (Advisory Editor) served as the 2021-2022 Poet Laureate for the City of Los Angeles. The daughter of Caribbean immigrants, her poetry collections include Beg No Pardon (2007), winner of the Perugia Press Prize and the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Award; Start With A Small Guitar (2013), from What Books Press; and Fretwork (2019), winner of the Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize. Thompson’s honors include the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Award (poetry) and the Stephen Dunn Prize for Poetry as well as fellowships from the City of Los Angeles, Vermont Studio Center, and the Summer Literary Series in Kenya. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Poetry, Poem-A-Day (Academy of American Poets), New England Review, Colorado Review, Pleiades, Ecotone, and Best American Poetry, to name a few. Visit her website.