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« "Saving Face" [by Terence Winch] | Main | "The Stamp of Impulse" [by Stacey Lehman] »

November 23, 2023


Scene of Three

The one who sees,
and the one who sells
false truth to the one who seeks.

"I must know!" says the seeker.

"Have I got a deal for you!"
says the seller.

"Shh!" says the seer.

And when the Great Khan had ceased fighting
raising his great place at Karakorum
on the empty and untutored steppe
he sought wisdom and gathered
philosophers from all his vast lands.
They came: Zoroastrians, Buddhists,Muslims
Nestorians,Confucians,and Christians.
And he commanded them to debate their beliefs,
which they did to win his favor.
They spoke separately, did not refute, but
sought to illuminate their singular revelations,
and the Great Khan was pleased, encouraging them all,
also separately.
Then,having performed,they departed separately,
never to communicate again, each
confirmed in the superiority of his own truth.


Hitching back from Mardi Gras to Tulsa,
Dalton ditched the beads in a rest stop trash can.
Henry, still dressed as a mad monk, nodded, understanding.
Billy Bob, mustard in his ZZ Top beard, asked why.
“I was fixin’ to DIY a macrame for my mee-maw with those!”

Dalton squatted against the bark of a birch, watching a wood
Just past the swamps of Manchac. “Don’t you get it?
The beads glitter but already clog up landfill! All this wilderness —
Next time we pass here, it’ll lie in lake water,
And you and I, we’ll be in a boat drifting nowhere.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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