It has been said that girls
to have fun. Oh Cyndi Lauper
if only you had met David Lehman. “But what
does fun mean to Dave?” skeptical Cyndi asks, unsure of how exactly
to fit Da-vid Leh-man into her pop hit wonder.
Well, Ms. Lauper, perhaps you and your skepticism are right perhaps
Mr. Lehman’s fun has only a little to do with light gels
and amplifiers and a bit more to do with the lovable and devious solitary figure who has
systematically deranged his sensibilities enough
to bound the 20 odd flights of stairs to the no-access-rooftop so that he can best see language, chance, and some basic poetic instincts
swirl and toss themselves back down into a rainbowed street puddle. “Yes!
exclamation point! that was fun” leaps David Lehman
and turns to face us, gun in hand “Nobody move! This is a robbery!
Put your pre-established codes of decision in the bag and no one will get hurt.”
Of course by hurt he means fun; by no one he means everyone. And so we move through sestinas dedicated to fellow poet Jorie Graham’s big hair, pantoums about the 1944 film noir Laura, prose poems turned personal ads, Kafka in Las Vegas, and parties where art for art’s sake nurses a vodka gimlet.
And maybe just maybe
David Lehman hopes,
as he looks out at the city’s horizon,
he has defeated the sneers of selfish men,
and all the dreary intercourse of daily life.
-- Becca Jensen
[Washington University, St. Louis: April 2, 2009]