David Lehman

in New York City, The United States
June 11, 1948


David Lehman is a poet and the series editor for The Best American Poetry series. He teaches at The New School in New York City.

Average rating: 3.76 · 8,118 ratings · 1,092 reviews · 94 distinct worksSimilar authors
Great American Prose Poems:...

4.05 avg rating — 349 ratings — published 2003 — 7 editions
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The Oxford Book of American...

4.21 avg rating — 284 ratings — published 2006 — 2 editions
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The Last Avant-Garde: The M...

4.03 avg rating — 242 ratings — published 1998 — 2 editions
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The Best American Erotic Po...

3.87 avg rating — 156 ratings — published 2008 — 7 editions
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The Daily Mirror

3.63 avg rating — 112 ratings — published 2000 — 6 editions
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Sinatra's Century: One Hund...

4.01 avg rating — 129 ratings — published 2015 — 5 editions
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When a Woman Loves a Man: P...

3.59 avg rating — 66 ratings — published 2005 — 7 editions
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The Best American Poetry 2019

3.79 avg rating — 231 ratings — published 2019 — 5 editions
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A Fine Romance: Jewish Song...

3.78 avg rating — 49 ratings — published 2009 — 5 editions
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Ecstatic Occasions, Expedie...

4.13 avg rating — 39 ratings — published 1987 — 4 editions
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More books by David Lehman…
“When she says margarita she means daiquiri.
When she says quixotic she means mercurial.
And when she says, "I'll never speak to you again,"
she means, "Put your arms around me from behind
as I stand disconsolate at the window."

He's supposed to know that.

When a man loves a woman he is in New York and she is in Virginia
or he is in Boston, writing, and she is in New York, reading,
or she is wearing a sweater and sunglasses in Balboa Park and he
is raking leaves in Ithaca
or he is driving to East Hampton and she is standing disconsolate
at the window overlooking the bay
where a regatta of many-colored sails is going on
while he is stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway.

When a woman loves a man it is one ten in the morning
she is asleep he is watching the ball scores and eating pretzels
drinking lemonade
and two hours later he wakes up and staggers into bed
where she remains asleep and very warm.

When she says tomorrow she means in three or four weeks.
When she says, "We're talking about me now,"
he stops talking. Her best friend comes over and says,
"Did somebody die?"

When a woman loves a man, they have gone
to swim naked in the stream
on a glorious July day
with the sound of the waterfall like a chuckle
of water rushing over smooth rocks,
and there is nothing alien in the universe.

Ripe apples fall about them.
What else can they do but eat?

When he says, "Ours is a transitional era,"
"that's very original of you," she replies,
dry as the martini he is sipping.

They fight all the time
It's fun
What do I owe you?
Let's start with an apology
Ok, I'm sorry, you dickhead.
A sign is held up saying "Laughter."
It's a silent picture.
"I've been fucked without a kiss," she says,
"and you can quote me on that,"
which sounds great in an English accent.

One year they broke up seven times and threatened to do it
another nine times.

When a woman loves a man, she wants him to meet her at the
airport in a foreign country with a jeep.
When a man loves a woman he's there. He doesn't complain that
she's two hours late
and there's nothing in the refrigerator.

When a woman loves a man, she wants to stay awake.
She's like a child crying
at nightfall because she didn't want the day to end.

When a man loves a woman, he watches her sleep, thinking:
as midnight to the moon is sleep to the beloved.
A thousand fireflies wink at him.
The frogs sound like the string section
of the orchestra warming up.
The stars dangle down like earrings the shape of grapes.”
David Lehman, When a Woman Loves a Man: Poems

“Words have no single fixed meaning. Like wayward electrons, they can spin away from their initial orbits and enter a wider magnetic field. No one owns them or has a proprietary right to dictate how they will be used.”
David Lehman, Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man

“How like a winter has been my hard spring away from you, my harp. --Psalm”
David Lehman

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