Kathleen M. Lyne:
Observations and Musings


The Poet


It's difficult to get Kay to speak about her poetics, about how and why she writes poetry. She readily admits to a life-long admiration for the written word and the enduring works of English poetry, back as far as the language of Shakespeare and the King James translation of the Bible. She modestly admits to classical, Romantic, as well as contemporary influences.

She is less comfortable trying to explain why she writes poetry. However, beneath the usual phrases about self-expression and self-fulfillment she hints at a compulsion. An idea may present itself; more often it will strike her. The idea takes the spirit of a poem and she feels she must write; she has no other choice.

How she writes she explains simply. The idea comes to her and she jots it down in a notebook or even on a handy scrap of paper. Later she works it out on the page, writing in longhand without mechanical intrusions. The poem is finished when she is proud of it and is ready to present it to the world.

The things that influence Kay, that move her, are the simple details of daily life: travel, family, community. And they are enough.

Biography of Kay Lyne



Busy weeding garden and lawn lest neighbours complain,
I stoop to pluck an offending dandelion.
In the small space between thought and completion
delicate white wings flutter down.
Gently fanning soft air, a butterfly hovers,
settles, sips flower nectar.

One creature’s nuisance another’s opportunity –
our concentric worlds mutually supportive.

November Night

The freight train wails through the still, dark night:
Roars through the rock cuts and over deep rivers.
It cross the marshes hemmed in ice
As it rattles and shakes and shivers.
Above in the dark on the cold hillside
Wolf watches and waits and quivers.

The leafless trees on the ancient hills
Raise thin bare arms to the moon.
Wolf crouches there where the leaves decay
While he watches the train and soon
From ages past his wail joins in
As he bays for a hunter’s boon.





Mid-summer’s Night

Cat danced by himself in the moonlight
And waved his paws in the air
Out where the shadows mingled
And moonlight dappled the lawn;
Out where the fireflies flickered
That night was soft and fair.

Out where the owl was hooting
His low and mournful song
“Come out, come out,” he coaxed me,
“Where midnight weaves a spell,
Out where the breeze is sighing
Before the moonlight’s gone.”

But midnight’s not my hour,
The owl’s is not my song;
For I have learned to ponder.
So human-like I lingered
Unyielding to his song.
Now night and cat are gone.



Garter Snake

We were not friends or enemies, just passers-by.
I’d note his handsome ways, his flickering tongue,
Well-ordered scales, his sinewy sides with lighter stripe,
Keeping always to his path and I to mine
Going on about our own affairs.
He was familiar, part of warm summers,
Field flowers and long grasses.
Then one day I came upon him
All his graceful gliding motion still:
I felt bereft, as if I’d lost a part of me
And all that summer’s meant to be.



photo courtesy of the estate of William C. Lyne

On Pacifism

All summer long I’d thought about the gentle ways
Of followers of Buddha’s Path.
I took to peaceful, kindly deeds,
Leaving spider webs intact, moving crickets out of doors;
I felt ennobled by these simple acts.

Until in late, late summer,
To prune a patch of rampant marjoram,
I waded in with fearsome shears a-clicking.
Out sprang some buzzing flying thing
That stung me on the chin!

I waved my shears and shouted;
Undaunted it took up the fray
And stung me on the cheek!
I swung my hat and shouted;
It zeroed in again.

I whipped my hat once more at it,
Then buzzing still and valiant, off it flew.
I had not murdered it: but not for want of trying.
So there I stood, knee deep in marjoram,
My Buddhist aspirations dying.




Gypsy Market


Went to town for the Gypsy Market: it rained,
no swirling skirts or bright music.
Disappointed, we sat in a street side cafe;
I ordered, “Tarte des Almandes, espresso.”
He scoffed, ordered, “coffee.”
The rain blew in through the café awnings.
Shivering, we huddled together
‘till the pastry and coffee came;
He took “just a taste,” ate more than half.


Suddenly the rain stopped, the sun came out.
Refreshed and comforted, holding hands,
fingers entwined, we rode the bus back
along the winding road through almond orchards
to the shimmering Portuguese seashore.
Reveling in the warm caress of sand and waves
on liberated feet and thighs,
laughing in the glorious sunshine,
we made our own gypsy music.




In the frigid air above the sepia coloured crags,
On dark brown wings the golden eagles soar,
Build their stick nests and raise their young
Beside the froth-rimmed black volcanic shore.


Huddled spruce trees crowd the rocky slopes,
Their branches hunched against the constant drip of rain;
Layers of thick mosses wrap their gnarled limbs
As if to ward off cold’s primordial pain.


Small streams meander through dun-coloured flats;
Ever pushing up, the permafrost
Strives to exert its icy dominance
Until the tender growing plants are lost.
Beside the sea the hungry grizzlies lumber,
Beneath it all ancient volcanoes slumber.





In Oshweken when the snow lay deep
And smoke rose straight above the long-house roofs
From fires within where corn soup simmered
Sending fragrant steam aloft to Broken-Nose,
Outside where trees wore black and white
Dark men in moccasins filed by.
Their laughter rang across the frozen fields;
Raising sinewy arms they made the snow-snake sing.






photo courtesy of the estate of William C. Lyne



Root bound
sinking into lethargy

I grabbed hold of my life
gave it a shake

out fell the memories

scrunched them up
tossed them aside

lightened my load
held back the tears

walked away free

Kathleen M. (Kay) Lyne


Kay (Prewer) Lyne was born in 1930 in the Algoma District and raised in Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, the younger of two children. In the home the beauty and importance of poetry was emphasized. After completing high school she taught native children for a time until she married William C. Lyne, a metallurgist at Algoma Steel. They soon moved to Hamilton where he took a position in the family customs brokerage business.

While attending an English course at McMaster University as a listener, her interest in poetry was noted by the lecturer who invited her to join the Tower Poetry Society. Her first poem was published in Tower.

While raising her four children and doing volunteer work for church and charitable organizations, Kay continued to write and publish her poetry. She also went on to earn an honours B. A. in Psychology from McMaster. After her children were grown she completed work for an M. S. W. at Wilfrid Laurier University, and worked in community organizational development for several agencies.

That work, her early years in Algoma, her family, and her more recent travel continue to shape her poetry.

Kay Lyne discusses her work with TPS
Editor-in-Chief Jeff Seffinga

Return to top of page
Previous Feature

Next Feature