Sunday, July 10, 2011
David Lehman - Poem "On Purpose"
“What is the purpose of your poems?”
I’m glad you asked me that
as I stand here in Mr. Ferry’s eleventh-grade English class
at Lake Forest High School
I have given a lot of thought to “purpose”
Walking with a purposeful air in New York City
has obvious benefits in the chill of the night with wind
and it’s even better when it’s no bluff
you do know where you’re going
from day to day
and you know when it’s over
so it’s like a story with a beginning middle and end
yet you could not tell me the purpose
of high school humiliation and I could not tell you
the purpose of this dream where you get up from these desks
and go to college and become lawyers or failures or soccer moms
and when you wake up you will have no recollection
of this encounter in the dark but it will linger nevertheless
and bring refreshment to your soul
- David Lehman
from YESHIVA BOYS by David Lehman. Scribner, 2009. Used by permission.
Mr. Lehman, an accomplished New York City poet who has featured at The Inspired Word, is the author of several collections of poetry and the founding editor of The Best American Poetry anthology series.