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Best Famous David Lehman Poems


Here is a collection of the all-time best famous David Lehman poems. This is a select list of the best famous David Lehman poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous David Lehman poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of David Lehman poems.

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by David Lehman |

Ode To Pornography

 If you could write down the words
moving through a man's mind as
he masturbates you'd have a quick 
bonus bonk read, I used to think. 
But words were never adequate 
or the point in the bar where the girl
is a boy the boy is a girl the two girls
exchange underpants the one with
the dildo is the boy each needs to know
what the other is feeling, so the thrill
of humiliation is visited on one and
the other is disbelieved, perennial virgin,
with teeth marks on her buttocks 
hiding in the closet and the power 
between them is distributed unequally 
the other on her knees in ecstasy


by David Lehman |

December 14

 This bed thy center is, these walls, thy sphere,
The tarnished, gaudy, wonderful old work
Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
That never touch with inarticulate pang
Those dying generations-at their song.
The One remains, the many change and pass
The expiring swan, and as he sings he dies.
The earth, the stars, the light, the day, the skies,
A white-haired shadow roaming like a dream
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines,
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too-
Sin and her shadow Death, and Misery,
If but some vengeful god would call to me,
Because I could not stop for Death,
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love.
My playmate, when we both were clothed alike,
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Suffer my genial spirits to decay
Upon the bridal day, which is not long?
I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong.


by David Lehman |

Sexism

 The happiest moment in a woman's life
Is when she hears the turn of her lover's key
In the lock, and pretends to be asleep
When he enters the room, trying to be
Quiet but clumsy, bumping into things,
And she can smell the liquor on his breath
But forgives him because she has him back
And doesn't have to sleep alone.

The happiest moment is a man's life
Is when he climbs out of bed
With a woman, after an hour's sleep,
After making love, and pulls on
His trousers, and walks outside,
And pees in the bushes, and sees
The high August sky full of stars
And gets in his car and drives home.


by David Lehman |

January 24

 I was about to be mugged by a man 
with a chain so angry he growled
at the Lincoln Center subway station
when out of nowhere appeared a tall
chubby-faced Hasidic Jew with peyot
and a black hat a black coat white shirt
with prayer-shawl fringes showing 
we walked together out of the station
and when we got outside and shook hands 
I noticed he was blind. Goodbye,
I said, as giddy as a man waking
from an anesthetic in the recovery room,
happy, with a hard-on. The cabs were
on strike on Broadway so beautiful
a necklace of yellow beads
I breathed in the fumes impossibly happy


by David Lehman |

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


by David Lehman |

September 22

 It's the day of the ram
and the head of the year
Rosh Ha'Shanah at
services I sat next to
Mel Torme who outshone
all comers with his bar
mitzvah heroics while on
my left is Barnett Newman
big talker whose favorite
subjects include the horses
and the stock market he
knows the odds the women
are seated upstairs this is
an orthodox congregation
very serious I make
eye contact with the wife
of Menelaus who runs off
with Paris confident I'm Paris.


by David Lehman |

When A Woman Loves A Man

 When she says Margarita she means Daiquiri.
When she says quixotic she means mercurial.
And when she says, "I'll never speak to you again,"
she means, "Put your arms around me from behind
as I stand disconsolate at the window."

He's supposed to know that.

When a man loves a woman he is in New York and she is in Virginia
or he is in Boston, writing, and she is in New York, reading,
or she is wearing a sweater and sunglasses in Balboa Park and he
 is raking leaves in Ithaca
or he is driving to East Hampton and she is standing disconsolate
at the window overlooking the bay
where a regatta of many-colored sails is going on
while he is stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway.

When a woman loves a man it is one-ten in the morning,
she is asleep he is watching the ball scores and eating pretzels
drinking lemonade
and two hours later he wakes up and staggers into bed
where she remains asleep and very warm.

When she says tomorrow she means in three or four weeks.
When she says, "We're talking about me now,"
he stops talking. Her best friend comes over and says,
"Did somebody die?"

When a woman loves a man, they have gone
to swim naked in the stream
on a glorious July day
with the sound of the waterfall like a chuckle
of water ruching over smooth rocks,
and there is nothing alien in the universe.

Ripe apples fall about them.
What else can they do but eat?

When he says, "Ours is a transitional era."
"That's very original of you," she replies,
dry as the Martini he is sipping.

They fight all the time
It's fun
What do I owe you?
Let's start with an apology
Ok, I'm sorry, you dickhead.
A sign is held up saying "Laughter."
It's a silent picture.
"I've been fucked without a kiss," she says,
"and you can quote me on that,"
which sounds great in an English accent.

One year they broke up seven times and threatened to do it
 another nine times.

When a woman loves a man, she wants him to meet her at the
 airport in a foreign country with a jeep.
When a man loves a woman he's there. He doesn't complain that
 she's two hours late
and there's nothing in the refrigerator.

When a woman loves a man, she wants to stay awake.
She's like a child crying
at nightfall because she didn't want the day to end.

When a man loves a woman, he watches her sleep, thinking:
as midnight to the moon is sleep to the beloved.
A thousand fireflies wink at him.
The frogs sound like the string section
of the orchestra warming up.
The stars dangle down like earrings the shape of grapes.


by David Lehman |

Examples (August 27)

 The last Campbell's tomato soup can 
of the twentieth century is going to 
the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh 
That is an example of a sentence 
Another is this from a CEO in Fortune 
"You die in either case, but this way you get 
to do it proactively," where the adverb 
makes the sentence I'm walking amid 
the tourists on Bleecker Street the riffraff 
the students with backpacks the bums and 
a good old-fashioned New York feeling 
hits me from head to toe a misanthropic snarl 
the urge to kick a stranger in the pants, 
and if you don't smoke you feel as if you do


by David Lehman |

Big Hair

 Ithaca, October 1993: Jorie went on a lingerie
tear, wanting to look like a moll
in a Chandler novel. Dinner, consisting of three parts gin 
and one part lime juice cordial, was a prelude to her hair.
There are, she said, poems that can be written 
only when the poet is clad in black underwear. 

But that's Jorie for you. Always cracking wise, always where
the action is, the lights, and the sexy lingerie. 
Poems, she said, were meant to be written 
on the run, like ladders on the stockings of a gun moll 
at a bar. Jorie had to introduce the other poet with the fabulous hair
that night. She'd have preferred to work out at the gym. 

She'd have preferred to work out with Jim. 
She'd have preferred to be anywhere 
but here, where young men gawked at her hair 
and old men swooned at the thought of her lingerie. 
"If you've seen one, you've seen the moll," 
Jorie said when asked about C. "Everything she's written

is an imitation of E." Some poems can be written 
only when the poet has fortified herself with gin. 
Others come easily to one as feckless as Moll 
Flanders. Jorie beamed. "It happened here," 
she said. She had worn her best lingerie, 
and D. made the expected pass at her. "My hair 

was big that night, not that I make a fetish of hair, 
but some poems must not be written 
by bald sopranos." That night she lectured on lingerie 
to an enthusiastic audience of female gymnasts and gin-
drinking males. "Utopia," she said, "is nowhere." 
This prompted one critic to declare that, of them all,

all the poets with hair, Jorie was the fairest moll. 
The New York Times voted her "best hair."
Iowa City was said to be the place where 
all aspiring poets went, their poems written 
on water, with blanks instead of words, a tonic
of silence in the heart of noise, and a vision of lingerie

in the bright morning -- the lingerie to be worn by a moll 
holding a tumbler of gin, with her hair 
wet from the shower and her best poems waiting to be written.


by David Lehman |

The Difference Between Pepsi And Coke

 Can't swim; uses credit cards and pills to combat
 intolerable feelings of inadequacy;
Won't admit his dread of boredom, chief impulse behind
 numerous marital infidelities;
Looks fat in jeans, mouths clichés with confidence,
 breaks mother's plates in fights;
Buys when the market is too high, and panics during
 the inevitable descent;
Still, Pop can always tell the subtle difference
 between Pepsi and Coke,
Has defined the darkness of red at dawn, memorized
 the splash of poppies along
Deserted railway tracks, and opposed the war in Vietnam
 months before the students,
Years before the politicians and press; give him
 a minute with a road map
And he will solve the mystery of bloodshot eyes;
 transport him to mountaintop
And watch him calculate the heaviness and height
 of the local heavens;
Needs no prompting to give money to his kids; speaks
 French fluently, and tourist German;
Sings Schubert in the shower; plays pinball in Paris;
 knows the new maid steals, and forgives her.