'Second Draft'

James Longenbach
Burton Longenbach

James Longenbach's "Second Draft" is from his third book of poems, Draft of a Letter. Of the collection, The Los Angeles Times Book Review said, "A sensibility this cogent, this subtle and austere is rare; even rarer is its proof that poetry still flows through all things and transforms all things in the process."

To mark National Poetry Month, NPR.org is featuring a series of newly published works selected by the Academy of American Poets. Learn more about this and other titles at the academy's New Spring Books list.

Second Draft

James Longenbach

 

As an older man,

Graying, not stooped,

I saw the future:

Extremities

 

Cold, tongue

Sluggish,

Foam at the lips.

Excessive hope

 

Seemed more

Indulgent

Than despair.

I ran great distances.

I stood in sunlight

 

Just to see my shadow,

Show it off.

For the first time I remember

 

My soul looked back.

What other people learn

From birth,

Betrayal,

I learned late.

 

My soul perched

On an olive branch

Combing itself,

Waving its plumes. I said

 

Being mortal,

I aspire to

Mortal things.

 

I need you,

Said my soul,

If you're telling the truth.

Books Featured In This Story

Draft of a Letter

by James Longenbach

Paperback, 69 pages | purchase

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Draft of a Letter
Author
James Longenbach

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