February 10: The Business

A weekly poem, read by the author.
June 13 2001 3:00 AM

February 10: The Business

They could be anyone's opinions
fights, frustrations, likes and dislikes,
victories and defeats, love letters, class notes, tall tales,
they could belong to everyone but they happen to be mine
today yours tomorrow like a book like a box of books
the store ordered but has the right to return so
from the publisher's point of view it's as if they're gone
today here tomorrow that's the nature of the business
of words their manufacture and distribution
from factory to warehouse a few months
on a shelf a few hours in somebody's lap
open to page 142 when he fell asleep
but it lives on in his dreaming mind

David Lehman is the editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry. He won the 2010 Deems Taylor Award from ASCAP for his book A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs. He teaches in the graduate writing program at the New School in New York City.

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