Gary Lehmann - Author

Author's Publications and Upcoming Appearances

Friday, September 15, 2006

Some Recent Poetry

Addie, 1910

Gary Lehmann

The orphan girl, Addie, leans back on her machine uncomfortably.
Behind her is a six foot bank of cotton spinning machines.
Her arms are emaciated.
Her left forearm looks like it may have been badly set after a break.
She wears a checked smock over a calico blouse.
Her sleeves are rolled up above the elbow.
Her patch pocket bulges and is stained with greasy smudges.
The edges of the pocket have been sewn for reinforcement.
Bits of thread cling to her smock.
It has no shape or size.
Grease marks spot the lower half.
Her hands and bare feet are grease covered.
Her toes splay out from long hours standing shoeless on the slippery floor.
Her hair is pulled back to keep it from getting caught in the bobbins.
Her eyes are partially hooded, blank and staring.
Her face is gray.
Her mouth registers no emotion.
You can almost hear the clatter of a thousand bobbins behind her.
Everything except Addie is moving.
She has taken a moment to allow someone to take her picture.

The Gospel According to Timothy

Gary Lehmann

In an open letter dated August 9, the Reverend Timothy LaBoeuf, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Watertown, NY, declared that Bible School teacher Mary Lambert would no longer be permitted to teach male children the Holy Word of Sacred Scripture because she is female.

The Word of the Bible is final.

The Reverend Timothy cited the first epistle to Timothy, “do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.” Ms. Lambert was dismissed without warning after providing Bible study to the children of the church for 54 years. God has not released a statement as yet.

Inside the Gaze of Eliza and Josiah Goddard

Gary Lehmann

In October 1838, Josiah and Eliza Goddard had their pictures painted by a local artist.
The newly-weds wanted to leave a likeness of themselves in case they failed to return.
They had received a calling to convert the heathen races of the world in the Far East.
Josiah learned about the hardships he would face as a missionary at Brown University.

Their two portraits evidence their single-minded dedication to a sacred purpose.
At 22, they voluntarily predestined their lives to be sacrificed for the conversion of the heathens.
They look coldly ahead, feigning Stoic resolve, anxious to impress us with their determination.
Two months later, they boarded the freighter Apthorpe in Boston bound for far-off Burma.

Eliza was seasick for the entire four months of the journey. In Bangkok, she bore four children. In her journal, Eliza recorded the lack of drinking water and clean food. The heat was inhumane. The savageness of the people was overshadowed by smallpox, typhoons, and flooding.
An opium eater, evidently brought to despair by a lack of God, committed suicide on her step.

Josiah mastered the local dialect but in the process contracted tuberculosis and sickened.
A move inland to Nang-po did not improve his health, and he died a few years later.
Eliza found it necessary to return home where she enrolled her son at the seminary at Brown.
She never returned to missionary work, but her son did to raise his own family in China.

In 1944, his grandson donated the paired portraits of Eliza and Josiah to Brown University.
When years of grime were cleaned away, they revealed the text under Josiah’s painted pen.
Now no one could for a moment contemplate the spirit of Christ without [being] convinced that It was a spirit of love ... but also a willingness to make [the] greatest conceivable sacrifices.

GERONIMO’s Last Stand

Gary Lehmann

In his day, Geronimo had an unsurpassed reputation for cruelty and cunning.
For nearly 20 years, his Apache warriors killed white soldiers and tortured captives.
General Nelson Miles, one of his many captors, wrote,
“He was, in fact, one of the lowest and most cruel of the savages.”

After the Indian Wars, Geronimo managed to negotiate a peace settlement for himself.
Together with his wife, he traveled all over the country signing photographs for $1 each.
If you didn’t already have a likeness of him, he sold you one for $3. – signature included.

Geronimo’s signature was awkward and scrawled. He’d turn the picture on its side,
and write the letters of his name from top to bottom each letter sideways
such that when you turned the image right side up again
it appeared for all the world like the signature of a wild savage.


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