Reviewers responded enthusiastically to An Alternative to Speech, David Lehman's first collection of poems, three years ago. John Ash, writing in The New York Times Book Review, praised Lehman's poetry as "elegant, exuberant, witty, lyrical and technically sophisticated." Mark Ford in The Times Literary Supplement called the poet's effects "irresistible." Lehman's new book is of equal or even surpassing excellence--notable for its wide range of subjects, its variety of inventions, its combination of wit and poignancy. Perfidia You don't know who these people are, or what They'll do to you if you're caught, but you can't Back out now: it seems you agreed to carry A briefcase into Germany, and here you are, Glass in hand, as instructed. You rise to dance With the woman with the garnet earrings, who is, Of course, the agent you're supposed to seduce And betray within the hour. Who would have known You'd fall in love with her? Elsewhere the day Is as gray as a newsreel, full of stripes and dots Of rain, a blurred windshield picture of Pittsburgh, But on the screen where your real life is happening It is always 1938, you are always dancing With the same blonde woman with the bloodshot eyes Who slips the forged passport into your pocket And says she knows you've been sent to betray her, Or else it is seventy degrees and holding In California, where you see yourself emerge unscathed From the car crash that wiped out your memory, Your past, as you walk into a gambler's hangout On Sunset Boulevard, in a suit one size too large, And the piano player plays "Perfidia" in your honor And the redhead at the bar lets you buy her a drink.