boldtype
poem    
 
david lehman      
 
lehman photo   February 23

Light rain is falling in Central Park
but not on Upper Fifth Avenue or Central Park West
where sun and sky are yellow and blue
Winds are gusting on Washington Square
through the arches and on to LaGuardia Place
but calm is the corner of 8th Street and Second Avenue
which reminds me of something John Ashbery said
about his poem "Crazy Weather" he said
he was in favor of all kinds of weather
just so long as it's genuine weather
which is always unusually bad, unusually
good, or unusually indifferent,
since there isn't really any norm for weather
When he was a boy his mother met a friend
who said, "Isn't this funny weather?"

It was one of his earliest memories
* * *

April 24

Did you know that Evian spelled backwards is naive?
I myself was unaware of this fact until last Tuesday night
when John Ashbery, Marc Cohen, and Eugene Richie
gave a poetry reading and I introduced them
to an audience that already knew them,
and there were bottles of Evian at the table.
As air to the lungs of a drowning man was
a glass of this water to my dry lips. I recommend it
to you, a lover of palindromes, who will also
be glad to learn that JA read us three "chapters"
of his new poem, "Girls on the Run," a twelve-
part saga inspired by girls' adventure stories, with
characters named Dimples and Tidbit plus Talkative and
Hopeful on loan from "Pilgrim's Progress."
As Frank O'Hara would have said, "it's the nuts."

The poets' books were on sale and afterwards
two of the poets signed theirs happily and the third
did so willingly and Joe took photos and I smiled
for the camera, shaking hands with people
I knew or didn't know and thinking how
blessed was the state of naivete
my naive belief in the glory of the word
* * *

June 6

No two are identical though
they begin from the same
point in time the same point in
the dream when the radio shuts
itself off in the middle of
"Just in Time" (Sinatra version)
the curtains are blowing in
and the driver of the hearse
outside looks up and says "Room
for one more" and now you
know what kind of hospital you're in
and you must escape from it
by acting "normal" pretending there isn't
a conspiracy against you as Dead of Night
shifts into Shock Corridor
there are a dozen versions of this dream
I keep thinking of what Ashbery said
about escapism he said we need
all the escapism we can get
and even that isn't going to be enough
* * *

July 10

The sky was a midnight blue
velvet cloth draping
a birdcage and no moon
but the breeze was whistling
and the sound of a car
on Valentine Place was
the rush of a waterfall
on the phone in New York City
and that's when the muse
turned up with curly brown locks
she was a poet, too, and wanted
me to give her an assignment
she was willing to trade
fifteen minutes of inspiration
in return for a phone call
from Frank O'Hara in heaven
sipping espresso and Irish whiskey
and then a morning swim
we had so much energy those days
we needed to burn some up
before we could paint
* * *

July 12

Wisteria, hysteria is as obvious a rhyme
as Viagra and Niagara there must be a reason
honeymooners traditionally went to the Falls
which were, said the divine Oscar,
an American bride's second biggest disappointment
tell me which do you like better,
the American Falls or the Horseshoe Falls,
I say the Horseshoe Falls, Joe says,
because its magnificence surpasses the American Falls
thank you, Joe, and did you know
when Casey Stengel managed the Yankees
he sat next to Bob Cerv on the bench one day,
put his arm around the big outfielder, and said,
"One of us has just been traded to Kansas City"
I don't know what put that in my mind
except that it backs up Michael Malinowitz's line
about John Ashbery being the Casey Stengel of poetry
meanwhile the Yankees are playing like the Bronx Bombers of old
and though I used to hate the Yankees I'm just enough
of a New York chauvinist to feel gleeful about it
wait a minute I'll be right back I am back that's
another line I've always wanted to put in a poem
what it will say on Johnny Carson's gravestone
"I'll be right back"
 
author's page
Bold Type
     
       
   
Copyright © 1998 David Lehman.