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'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, 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:



Cold, tongue


Foam at the lips.

Excessive hope


Seemed more


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,


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 |


Buy Featured Book

Draft of a Letter
James Longenbach

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