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David Lehman

One Day at a Time 


What goes around comes around.
I made up that phrase this morning.
Do you like it? Would you like to use it?
Be my guest.
It means: God will be with you
and good karma will be yours
and the only thing we have to fear
is fear itself.
That's right: abject terror.
It just shows to go you.
Dysfunctional families are all alike.
The codependents are coming over for dinner.
"I feel like a lark in a room full of owls,"
one says, leaving early. Her significant other
cuts to the chase. To no one in particular
he says, "Get a life, you risk-averse
couch potato!" As Bob Dylan sang,
"You can have your cake and eat it too."
You can have it all. You get the best of both worlds,
Six of one and half a dozen of the other.
If your car is making strange noises,
call 473-3577 and tell the cranky person
who answers all about it. Say,
I'm commitment-phobic. Say,
I've been smoke-free for three years.
There's no such thing as a free lunch
or a two-martini lunch,
but if you get your ducks in a row
(your sitting ducks, your lame ducks,
your lucky ducks, your dead ducks),
then, at the last moment of consciousness,
when your whole life flashes before you,
these words will go from your mouth to god's ear
and he (whatever you conceive him to be)
will nod once, with mild eyes,
and say, "Been there. Done that."


David Lehman

David Lehman lives in New York City. He is the author of Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man and several books of poetry, and is the series editor of The Best American Poetry. In Jacket number 5 you can read the Introduction to his recent book The Last Avant-garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets (Doubleday, New York, 1998, ISBN 038547542, 433 pages, USD$27.50, CAN$38.95).
(Photo of David Lehman copyright Star Black, 1998.)
(An earlier version of this poem appeared in Mike and Dale's Younger Poets.)


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