Each thing says one thing and the same:
I am me; who I am is what I do; my name
is flung like the tongue of a bell
rung, and I, young, le bête in the chill hall, a hell
of fame, pursue you, the belle of the ball.
Myself I speak before the fall,
before the wind with its wanderlust
blows away the leaves like mortal dust,
as fall they must,
the green, the red, the yellow, the rust.
As freedom to a slave, to a nomad is home,
or the scent of escape in the ocean foam
to the castled king, lusting for love.
The feet are cold, yet how like a fire
the hurt heart in the heat of her desire.
David Lehman presides over the "Next Line, Please" poetry challenges that appear on The American Scholar's digital edition. Lehman's new books are Playlist, a poem in multiple parts written on the daily installment plan from Nov 20, 2017 to Jan 15, 2018, and One Hundred Autobiographies: A Memoir, which Cornell University Press will publish in October 2019. That's a lot of dates for one sentence to bear, but it's worth noting that Playlist (Pittsburgh) is an homage to the late A. R. Ammons, my neighbor and friend in Ithaca, New York. Besides Archie, the subjects of Playlist include love, friendship, and music, in particular the jazz, classical, and popular music to which I was listening as I wrote.
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