Sean Lynch

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With the Word We Will be Healed

“Stoned to death in the streets of San Francisco,
in the year of grace 1869 by a mob of half-grown
boys and Christian school children.”
–Bret Harte, from Howard Zinn’s
A People’s History of the U.S.

The tiniest one cast first
then lined up for smiles
in a sepia school picture
viewing a future stranger
says “how cute” the young
pale tot smiles into the present.

Wan Lee’s human flesh
was never photographed.
Rather, the iron and wood
in which he worked became
what his master’s religion bid
them to be. A conduit imposed on.
A conduit to conquer the Sierra Nevada.

It was true.

Wan Lee
was meek
and so he inherited soil.
And yet it was foreign.

At Whitman's Tomb

I stood in the grass
by the river
in my thoughts
like the good grey poet
except with acknowledgement
that he was far from good
that he who invented
the celebration of contradiction
who studied the faces
of countless anonymous
19th century pedestrians
who pondered the motions
of now long dead birds above
could be a predator
but also a hero.
Walt Whitman, a man
who could desire
peace and prosperity
for American masses
yet also espouse Manifest Destiny
and succumb to bloodlust for scalps
of Cherokee, Iroquois, Sawnee,
Cheyenne, Arapaho, Blackfoot,
Apache, Arawak, Delaware,
of the life and limb
of the lawless and beautiful.
How this poet inspired
humans of the future
with descriptions of nature
and rhetoric of equality
then sold his words
for cheap ideas
and betrayed ideals
for the short-sighted thrills
of imperialism.
I stood in the grass
by this man's tomb
and all I could see
was grass.

Ode to Frank O'Hara

I bled on my copyArtwork by Gene McCormick
of O’Hara’s Lunch Poems
on the page in the poem
How to get there.
Smeared crimson
over the line.
I’m crying with
delight thru
invisible tears
washed away meaning
and inaudible sobs
and the page's intricate
individual pathways
of light are no longer the light
that illuminated
his blood stained on sand
and the ocean's body
is no longer a body
since he no longer is.

Militant Throws King’s Colt

materialized five years
after you had sewn
the phrase into material
hidden under your dress, Emily.

Why did you cross
under the fence
and stand in front
of the king’s horse
that early Summer’s day
at the Epsom Derby?

Why not starve? Cut wires?
Smash paintings? Burn Mansions?

Emily, your name still passes
ears by much faster than the Thames
but much unlike hooves
that trample sallow flesh and bones.

Were the Pankhursts proud
of your endeavor?
Was it more than just inequality
eating through you?

Did you intend to die?
If so, was violent death worth
a card inscribed
with names of men
who lacked your courage?

Sean Lynch is a poet and editor who lives in Philadelphia, PA. Lynch's poetry has appeared in Hamilton Stone Review, Poetry Quarterly, (parenthetical), and elsewhere online and in print. His work can also be found at