Poetry December 2007

Poem in the Prophetic Manner

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They’re kicking butt at Yankee Stadium,
They’re tearing the old palace down,
The thieves have stolen the radium,
The professor’s as sad as a clown.

And the widows and orphans are crying
Because they’re allergic to dust,
The magazine husband is dying,
The preacher says yes, he must.

In jail when the turnkey is sleeping,
The poet picks locks in the dark.
Not all the old willows are weeping
As the pigeons come to roost in the park.

We’re just a bunch of bozos.
The barbarians are back at the gate,
Though the idols are losing to Moses,
And the grocer says it’s too late.

It must be my destiny calling,
It must be the onset of fall,
The clouds and the curtains are falling,
The convicts are standing tall.

O bard in the belly of the whale,
O sinner pretending to pray,
Wherever you are, you’re in jail,
In jail at the end of the day.

David Lehman’s books of poetry and criticism include When a Woman Loves a Man (2005) and The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets (1998). Lehman is the founding editor of The Best American Poetry, and he edited the most recent edition of The Oxford Book of American Poetry (2006).
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