A Poem by David Lehman

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

Two Cigarettes in the Dark
for Stacey (July 26, 2014)

You talk I listen
Then I talk you listen
We decide that realism
Requires nudity so
We test out that theory
I vote in favor
Of your crimson nails
And the way you wore
Your scarf tonight
And used a little makeup
Not too much did you know
I like looking at photos
Of you from different years
All the different hair styles
Like how short and French
It was when we went
To Washington with my mother
And now it is 2:24 AM
And even I, who am on
Pacific Coast Time when I’m
In the East, figure it’s only
A few minutes more before
The booze the pills and the sound
Of Johnny Hartman singing a Mercer
Lyric (“I Thought About You”) and
Mercer doing the same (“One for
My Baby”) work their magic on me
Even if “it’s not in a gentleman’s code”
And you are my lady and Ella
Is singing “The Lady is a Tramp”
To a live audience of Californians
Kisses to you who have already
Reached a place behind the sun
All I can say is
It’s a luxury to be
Loved by you it makes me want
To write songs about it
And I think I will
When the clouds are behind me
And it’s a quarter to three

David Lehman’s most recent books are New and Selected Poems and The State of the Art: A Chronicle of American Poetry, 1988–2014. Sinatra’s Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World is forthcoming from HarperCollins this fall.

You will find more poems here. You may contact the editor at poems@theawl.com.