Gary Lehmann - Author

Author's Publications and Upcoming Appearances

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New Verse from the News

The Way to Win is to Lose
[for Sarah Palin]


Gary Lehmann

In the days of rising winds, about 500 BC,
the Viscount of Wu was faced with an
overwhelming enemy at his gates.

Wu calmly arrayed his 3000 soldiers in the field
and commanded that they cut their throats.

When they all obeyed, the enemy was so horrified
they ran away, refusing to enter a city of madmen,
and leaving Wu in command of his city.

Sun Tzu says the essence of effective warfare
is not destruction, but disorientation.

Mountains and Sea [1952]


Gary Lehmann

On October 26 in New York City, Helen Frankenthaler
tacked a large canvas to her studio floor.
Then she climbed a ladder to gain a world view.

The 7 by 10 foot untreated cotton canvas stretched out
like a blank landscape, crying out for Mountains and Sea.
She mixed her colors, highly thinned oil paints, in coffee cans.

Then she poured pools of color directly onto the raw canvas.
She used some long-handled brushes to spread the blue, purple,
orange/red, yellow, and green into translucent washes.

Unlike Jackson Pollock, her painting did not convey
deeply moody alcoholic patches of emotion, but
light, pastel fields, like a watercolor landscape.

She added some random splatters to highlight the staining,
allowing the diluted colors to dig into the unseasoned cotton,
like a giant napkin soaking up gently filtered light.

By late afternoon, it was time to take another look.
Back on the ladder, she thought for a long while.
Then descending, she added a few black lines to train the eye.

She thought for a time, then mixed orange/red with green/yellow
to make a rustic brown which she dabbed on a central field.
Remounting the ladder, she instantly declared, It’s right.

Not Ready to Lead

Gary Lehmann

He failed at Greek and Latin – the road to a Harrow education.
Even remedial classes didn’t help. He disliked math and foreign languages.
He got tutoring for the Sandhurst entrance exams, but failed twice.
He only passed when his father got him the questions in advance.
His low grades precluded the infantry, but he was able to join the cavalry,
though he had no money for a proper horse.

At Sandhurst, he was short, red-headed, pale and profoundly accident prone.
He fell off a bridge rupturing a kidney and giving himself a concussion.
In Switzerland, he nearly drowned when his boat floated away.
He dislocated his shoulder while disembarking in Bombay harbor.
He did it again when he fell off his polo pony and
yet again when he took a tumble during a steeple chase.

In New York, a car nearly ran him down for his carelessness.
He got wounded while conducting rifle practice.
He caught pneumonia and herniated his gut.
He crashed his plane while learning to fly.
In Pretoria he was in a train wreck, got captured, and imprisoned.
No doubt about it. Winston Churchill was not ready to lead.

13 Reasons Annie Edson Taylor Should not have Gone Over the Falls in a Barrel
by Gary Lehmann

1. She was 63 years old, a retired school teacher, and not in good physical shape.
2. There was no control over exactly where the barrel went over the Falls.
3. The barrel might have split open after hitting the rocks.
4. The sudden increase in air pressure underwater may have caused the barrel to burst.
5. The barrel may have gotten trapped in the plunge pool beneath the falls twisting her for hours into unconsciousness.
6. Impact with the water after a 170 foot fall might have driven her long bones into her torso.
7. She may have consumed all the air in the barrel in her excitement and suffocated to death.
8. If the chase boat missed the barrel, she would have drifted into the Whirlpool.
9. If the barrel leaked enough, it may have floated down river submerged.
10. The water temperature was slightly below 40’F.
11. The crowds did not expect her, and most people didn’t even see her go over.
12. She did not get rich.
13. Her manager ran away to Chicago with most of the money, taking the barrel with him.

Oliver Phelps’ Desk

Gary Lehmann

At the museum, we have Oliver Phelps’ desk.
There he sat as land agent, or so the story goes,
to transfer title to most of the farms and mill lots
of Western New York between 1780 and 1825.

We’re proud to have it, but we don’t know what it means.
It’s blue. Was it then? It’s on a newer stand.
Was that an imitation of the original wooden base
or did the upper portion originally rest on a table?

Was this where great stretches of land transferred title?
Did great men strain their eyes reading the fine print here
or was this just one more desk in a room full of desks?
Did it belong to a clerk? There’s a lot we don’t know.

What we have are the rumors surrounding a piece of furniture.
The file says this is the actual desk Oliver Phelps used
and, to make ourselves feel important, we accept this as fact.
For all we know, some antique dealer made it up in 1922.


Blogger Doug P. Baker said...

These are cool! I especially liked "Not Ready to Lead." I was hoping, as I read it, that it would be Custer or someone else that I don't like. But Winston Churchill!?! I wouldn't have expected him to be so accident prone and frail!

I guess that is where his words, "Never, never give up!" came from. Personal as well as military experience.

9:01 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home