David Lehman

Three Poems from a Work in Progress
April 24, 2022 Lehman David

Three Poems from a Work in Progress
(submitted, November 2, 2021)


After Breaking Three Ribs
(January 8, 2021)


Deer in the backyard, Schubert’s ninth
on the radio, the darkness sets,
it settles like the company
with the big pockets on the wrong end
of a lawsuit. The policy of Cut Your Losses
remains in order. But there are other things
on the patient’s mind. Poetry, for one.
The best line Cummings wrote
is “next to of course god America I.”
And music. I would choose Stan Kenton, “Adios,”
over bombastic Wagner, and then Rachmaninoff’s
second piano concerto, which vaults me back
to the London of Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson
and their brief encounters in railway teashops
on afternoons in 1945.



March Morning

(March 2, 2021)


Streak of sunlight
yellow on white
among the dunes
of snow may be
as much of beauty
as the afternoon can hold.

No One Speaks To Me Anymore
(March 27, 2021)


No one speaks to me anymore,
the old bore said (which is how
we knew he was an old bore).


Dostoyevsky used to speak to me,
quite intimately in fact;
not so much anymore.


Rimbaud was great when I was eighteen
Rilke three years later
but now neither of them will speak to me.


Emerson consoled me during
the heartbreak years. Jane Austen, too.
Now they’re both incommunicado.


Keats left a message but no
forwarding address. Virginia Woolf
does not return my calls.


Montaigne never really spoke to me,
but that’s my fault: there he stood
in the corner, imbibing an aperitif,


and I was too self-conscious
to approach him.  Who else?
Well, I guess Tolstoy still speaks to me,


“The Death of Ivan Ilych” in the car
waiting for my turn at the barber,
and “The Kreuzer Sonata,” which I


could not put down in the waiting room
of the hospital’s infusion center
before they took my blood.

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.