Elizabeth Greene

Poet, editor


What I Like About Poetry

It says, I prefer not to.
It doesn't persuade, exhort,
encourage, scold or ask for
money. It doesn't say, YOU can help.
It doesn't tell you to lose weight,
try botox or Viagra. It doesn't say
have a good day.

Prickly, seductive, lyric, abrasive,
there's the poem. Read it or not,
like it or not, it shrugs, persists.
It doesn't promise white teeth or
true love. You can enter or you can
walk away.


 Planet of the Lost Things

Phantom Books

I always thought I'd been careful of my books,
knew they mlght vamsh.
But there are still some I reach for that are
nowhere in the present.
The Professor anti the Mermaid,
lovely story of a young man studying classics one hot Sicilian summer,
a mermaid, supple as a sea otter, long blonde hair, a classic come to life,
speaking Greek, passionate, playful, a dream lover,
who stays rill the weather turns and the mermaids go back to sea.
I've bought it twice, lent it twice, itk gone.
And The Woodlanders, my favourite Hardy— Giles Winterborne,
loved well in life and after. What I remember:
damp southern English air, tragic and intense.
I can walk into it, even now.
What was I thinking when I packed my books?
Did I think I was done Mith Keats?
Or German grammar?
If I could mislay the books I loved,
what about things I treasured less?

Phantom Stores

At sixty-eight I walk through vanished worlds,
through streets irrevocably changed
I'm still turning corners to failed coffee shops,
dreaming egg and anchovy sandwiches,
looking forward to browsing for antiques
in stores now sushi places or Runners' Choice.

I miss Paradiso, green and leafy
in whitest winter.
If Mrs. Dalloway had bought flowers in Kingston,
she'd have bought them here:
wondrous lilies, purple alliums, green bells of Ileland,
perfect for any party.
And Sultans Bazaar—
exotic rugs and tablecloths, onyx goblets.
Alison presiding high-priestesslike over hand-carved
furniture and water-pipes she'd shepherded
from souks and villages.
I didn't lose these stores, but still, they're gone.

Phantom Clothes

Its the clothes I miss most,
the clothes and the body that wore them.
That kicky sixties dress,
swirling black and white
like a zebra on pot—
I wore it with yellow stockings,
blue earrings, yellow hat.
It probably wouldn't have lasted
fifty years. I miss it
and that long black sweater,
that felt like sliding inside a licorice stick—
was I careless enough
to let moths at it? Or did I give it away
because an astrologer told me
wearing black let in the dark?
I saved a blue silk suit,
one that doesn't date.
It's hanging out in the back of my closet.
I never wear it.
The Suttles and Seawinds jacket, golds and purples,
magnificent—waiting for me
with those gold drop earrings, too soon vanished friends,
the amber necklace which slipped off
two months before I removed my wedding ring forever
on the planet of the lost things.


My poems have appeared in Canadian Woman Studies, FreeFall, The Literary Review of Canada, The Antigonish Review, Queen's Feminist Review and in anthologies: Kingston Poets' Gallery, Common Magic: The Book of the New; Arms Like Ladders: The Eloquent She; Crossing Lines: Poets Who Came to Canada in the Viet Nam War Era; Poet to Poet Anthology; Poems from Planet Earth; Untying the Apron; Shy: An Anthology; I Found It at the Movies.

A poem is forthcoming in Love Where the Nights are Twice as Long.