Gary Lehmann - Author

Author's Publications and Upcoming Appearances

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Some Recent Poems

Settling Down

Gary Lehmann

The American painter, John Singer Sargent was born in Florence,
but he traveled around Italy and France for most of his early years.
As a teen, he showed a love of painting, but due to their nomadic life,
his mother insisted he work quickly to complete a painting every day.

As he accompanied her on morning walks, where ever they might be,
Mary Newbold Singer Sargent sketched in the open air with her son
teaching him the pure joy of rendering the surrounding countryside
in rapidly executed bright watercolor sketches of stunning beauty.

“No matter how many works are started, one must be finished each day.”
In the end, it was her abiding legacy to him and a useful one at that.
The world little values the work of artists. It is best if they can learn
to work fast and true -- not dwelling for too long in any one location.

Getting the News

Gary Lehmann

It was an early winter day with snow lingering in the air.
I walked out to pick up my mail from the box by the curb
when I heard this clatter of squawking overhead,
a bomber squadron of geese resolutely flying -- North.

You crazy geese, I thought.
You’re in for a nasty surprise when you get there.

I pulled the newspaper from its holster.
The headline told of troops being killed in some foreign land
not worth fighting over. More deaths and more suffering
as if the world had not had its fill of that already.

You crazy fools, I thought.
I’ll bet you never thought you signed up for this nonsense.

I pulled out the mail and leafed through the bills and circulars.
Everyday the post man brings me ads for things I never buy.
Most of it goes directly into the trash unopened.
Somehow the world rolls on despite our inefficiencies.

You crazy people, I thought.
Don’t you know you’re in for a nasty surprise one of these days?

What Sarah Said

Gary Lehmann

After reading the news of his wife’s death,
Sarah Goodridge, notable Boston miniature painter,
decided to paint something very special
for her long-time client, Daniel Webster.

In her studio, she positioned a mirror by the window,
took off her blouse and proceeded to paint on ivory
a perfect watercolor likeness of her bosom,
plump and full, the envy of Aphrodite.

Some woman at 40 may have blanched at such a challenge,
but Sarah produced a small, exquisite image
which shone with a luminous quality that
reproduced very well the glow of breathless flesh.

Each nipple stood out in bright pink contrast
to the creamy flesh around it, all
framed by drawn white curtains of fine lace.
She called it Beauty Revealed.

Sarah rarely left Boston, but for this occasion
she boarded a coach for Washington DC
to present her likeness to the great man herself.
Oh to have witnessed that interview!

Evidently, no clerk was available to sit in or take notes.
Were there tears? Recriminations? Or passionate embraces?
Did she throw herself melodramatically upon the protesting Puritan?
Or did he secretly admire her all those years of fruitless marriage?

We know he kept the miniature for the rest of his life.
In fact, it stayed in the Webster family for over 150 years,
locked away from prying eyes and inquiring minds until
no one can quite recall the true character of either party.

The Ice Man

Gary Lehmann

My Uncle Frank drove his truck on the ice every year.
Regardless of the weather or what the boys said
at the Chat and Chew about ice conditions,
he just laid out two planks and drove
his red truck right out there on the ice.
Damn you all!

He was always the first with his shed on the ice,
because he refused the hard labor of pulling
it manually when he could drive out.
I think after a while the bigger thrill
was tempting fate each year.
Damn you all!

He was an arrogant cuss
and you’d be excused for anticipating,
even wishing, that sometime
he’d drive his red Ford truck out there
with his damned shit-eating grin
and go right through with a quiet blurp!

But you’d be wrong.
Much as every man on the lake
wished it secretly, that bastard
drove his big red Ford truck out on the ice
year after year in confounded redneck defiance.
Damn you all!

The Inheritance

Gary Lehmann

Fingering through
this careful assortment of objects,
accumulated over a lifetime,
I see many were well-worn with hands
not unlike mine.

Now I stand here like a barbarian at the gate
demanding gold of these objects
so I can buy new objects
which I will wear down
over my score of years

to pass in time
to some other stranger to sell
and reforge into
a new life --
not unlike mine.

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.

Upon Opening the New School
After Cinders from the Train Crossing
Burned Down the Old One

Gary Lehmann

“What do I remember of my early education? Well, not much.
I do remember when the new one-room school opened in 1912,
and we all sang Marching through Georgia to celebrate.

It may be have been Mrs. Hartfeld’s idea to sing that song,
but it was Sparky and Slim who got the idea of marching and
pounding on the desks so the whole place would rock and sway.

The girls yelled Stop! Stop! You’ll bring down the whole school,
which just made it all the more fun. The pictures swayed,
the floorboards joined in the chorus. The potbelly laughed out loud.

The teacher didn’t seem to mind, and I guess we did no damage
as the school remained standing for two whole years more
before cinders from the train burned it down -- again.”



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