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Arnold Lehman: Poems

July 24, 2011 2:10 am | Posted by: stephen pierson

(from Issue Three)



Think of a Rhine journey

in the manner of a good bourgeois epic

of tin radios playing Mozart

of saying thank you to a girl

who will give you free lessons



Her tastes run to artificial flowers

and little boys’ faces on silver dollars

Loan her one to see how she repays


That occasional actress

of shapeless characters

whose greeting to stage-sent bouquets

is to let them lie…

Why waste the water



Eyes of seagulls, violet, lulling serene

wet dead tongues

with drops

creeping, running, carrying

black ash steeply over riverbanks


Her neck is stiff, immobile, a fixity

unlike most others

for she was ripe, birthed five and more

that did not live,

and smoothly curved down

toward the buttocks

she stood sideways, leering


but inside a loiterer, a conjurer,

a secret buried sorely in her mouth

inside her mind set fast in laughter

Her mother hid her,

the man who touched her was drunk,

and silent


She loves her chair very much,

and her hands, she loves her hands

touching her, in silence


On holidays, Christmas eve

on Easter and holy days

her little boys tug at her sleeve

they try to kiss her, to talk to her

they try to kiss her violet eyes


Arnold Lehman is a poet and has been the iconoclastic director of the Brooklyn Museum for more than a decade.


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