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VISIONS / Stephen Dunn I place in the sky whatever I need to find there; angels, analogues. I stop a landscape on canvas, give it an eye, a heart. In short, I'm the anyone who comes alone to a party, sensitive to spatial shifts, the vagueness that exists without him. Lover: how the word collects so much confusion. Tiger: what a useful name for a tiger. Even the physicist stands here rather than there, tipping the universe accordingly. To speak of Narcissus is to speak of courage. What matter that it was himself he saw in the glassy water? For a moment his aesthetic merged with what he saw and he went to meet it, dying of amazement. As with flowers, I settle for arrangements. The forest sprawls, calls out to me. I do with it what I can as you do, you who are waiting too in the everyday dark, unformed, so ordinary until seen just right. The Missouri Review · 69 CANDLES / Stephen Dunn When lightning has felled trees, when wires are down, I've gone from candle to candle as my ancestors must have, without choice, every night of their lives, I've watched a room cast off fear, everyone in it get close. A ceremony that isn't habit, how rare for us these days. What house doesn't have its weather, what family its aberrant wind or dark? I've known the candles certain candelabra hold, hanging over tables like platitudes, how a wine glass sometimes collects light and deludes. Those nights when the night seems not enough ours, on some level who isn't praying for a storm? So many concealments even in daylight. Match to wick, so many quietly burning choices to be made. 70 · The Missouri Review INSOMNIA / Stephen Dunn What should be counted was counted up to a hundred and back. And sleep came by, I think, sensed too much movement and left. Now there's desire meeting absence, the multiplication of zero, the mind, as always, holding out for a perfect convergence like a diver entering water without a splash. There's a part of me terribly stilled and alert, a silence that won't shut off. And there's this need to put on the light, to not sleep on sleep's terms, sleep which is after all like you, love, elsewhere and difficult. The Missouri Review · 71 FROM PORT AUTHORITY / Stephen Dunn It's winter, and the sad people collect indoors. Grouped, they seem sadder, their spittle and filth a reminder of what never changes. As with beautiful women on Fifth Avenue, not quite in my life, it should be easy to forget them. But they're new again, these sad people. Fifteen years removed from the city, I ride up once a week from safety and woods to speak about poetry. This is no irony; poetry is as much bus station as it is sunlight and poetry is so little sometimes, sometimes obscene next to what's too far gone. I offer this obscenity because the paramedics aren't available. The ambulance is elsewhere and no doubt should be. Irony is teaching at a university that rejected you as a student, and I make my way there uptown through the separate world of subway, each train a poor man's Jackson Pollock, a signature. Outside it's what New Yorkers call a beautiful day. Crisp, windless, one side of the street in sunlight, the other in shadow. 72 · The Missouri Review And it is a beautiful day. I remember many like it, coming up out of darkness stunned, glad to be alive. The Missouri Review · 73 MIDDLE CLASS POEM / Stephen Dunn In dreams, the news of the world comes back, gets mixed up with our parents and the moon. We can't help but thrash. Those with whom we sleep, never equally, roll away from us and sigh. When we wake the news of the world embraces us, pulls back. Who let go first?— a lover's question, the lover who's most alone. We purchase a little forgetfulness at the mall. We block the entrance to our hearts. Come evening, the news of the world is roaming...


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pp. 69-78
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