David Lehman

Tchaikovsky’s Fifth, On Freud’s Birthday [May 5] & In Vienna
October 17, 2019 Lehman David

Tchaikovsky’s Fifth [March 15]
for Lew Saul

The first movement of Tchaikovsky’s
fifth symphony the stately ominous theme
giving way to the grand parade
and then the violins of May and dismay
from andante to allegro
is magnificent on the ides of March
as on any other day but today
the emotion is almost greater
than the music can bear


On Freud’s Birthday [May 5]

Freud’s stock is at a new low
but I buy more shares after
Thomas Mann in his essay
on Freud explains that
the ego is an “alert and
enlightened part of the id
— much as Europe is
a small and lively province
of the greater Asia”
(and while I’m at it I may
buy some upside
calls on Schopenhauer)


In Vienna [August 24]

If you have cigarettes prepare
to smoke them now
in the sunlight of this café in Vienna
where the woman at the table across from me
lets an ankle slip out of her glossy black pumps
and amid the general gasp I get a glimpse
of her pepper-and-salt pants and plain tan blouse
the liquefaction of her clothes
the distribution of her flesh
she knows I notice and she likes it
though no pass will be made it’s like being
a couple of extras in The Third Man
and the smile in her eyes when she pays
and leaves, looking back

David Lehman’s recent books are The Mysterious Romance of Murder: Crime, Detection, and the Spirit of Noir and The Morning Line, a collection of poems.