The Rim Benders by Lola Haskins


Van K. Brock Florida Poetry Series (2001)

Lola Haskins writes with the startling freedom and grace of a kite flying, and with the variety and assurance of invention that reveal, in image after image, the dream behind the waking world. -- W.S. Merwin

The voices in Lola Haskins' poems, even the voices of inanimate objects, evoke disturbance, make the heart grieve and rejoice for all it is haunted by. Nobody evokes the mysteries of beauty and the beauty of mystery the way Haskins does. -- Susan Ludvigson

[About Extranjera, also by Lola Haskins:] Haskins has a gift for juggling pain and pleasure, wisdom and fear, life and death, as she explores Mexican culture. She understands Lorca's idea of duende, a passionate spirit, and evokes it naturally in her work. -- Booklist


Spell for a Poet Getting On

May your hipbones never die.
May you hear the ruckus of mountains
in the Kansas of your age, and when
you go deaf, may you go wildly deaf.

May the neighbors arrive, bringing entire aviaries.
When the last of your hair is gone, may families
lovelier than you can guess colonize
the balds of your head.

May your thumbstick grow leaves.
May the nipples of your breasts drip wine.
And when, leaning into the grass, you watch
the inky sun vanish into the flat page

of the sea, may you join your lawn chair,
each of you content
that nothing is wise forever.



Matanzas Beach, near St. Augustine, was named to commemorate Pedro Menendez’ 1565 slaughter of Huguenot settlers there. Menendez justified the murders by saying it was not Frenchmen he had killed, but heretics.

A rod jammed into the sand
the thin line from its tip to the sea

and him down the beach
picking up broken angels' wings
with a boy's faith

in what swims in deep water
when suddenly, raptly, his rod bends
and he pounds towards it,

pounds heart-footed
towards what is silver and struggles
in every boy and

flushed, he reels it in.
What next, he never thought. It leaps
and gasps in his hands.


How I Learned

For years I made you purple presents.
Mauve blouses, lavender skirts,
fuschia scarves that flowed.
For each occasion, another shade
of bruise, sweet as the fumes of
Daddy's disappearing Buick, achy as
the strokes of tight-lipped Mommy,
brushing my hair. I thought you'd
wear them. I thought they'd become
you, being blonde. But you put them,
all my purple gifts, in one deep drawer.
And now, grown, you take them out.
At first it pains, how new they are.
Then you smile. Let's give these
away, you say. And the spring sun
backlights your hair. You look
like some kind of angel, standing
there in your bedroom, the shine
of what to keep, and what to let go
falling through both our hands.

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