Sunday, July 10, 2011

David Lehman - Poem "On Purpose"

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.

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