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Winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
A wise and graceful new collection by one of our "major, indispensable poets" (Sidney Lea). The mysteries of Eros and Thanatos, the stubborn endurance of mind and body in the face of diminishment--these are the undercurrents of Stephen Dunn's eleventh volume. "I am interested in exploring the 'different' hours," he says, "not only of one's life, but also of the larger historical and philosophical life beyond the personal."
desire. Are wildflowers holy? Are weeds? There’s infinite hope if both are, but perphaps not for us. To skirt the woods, to walk deeply like this into the high grass, is to invoke the phantasms of sense and importance. I think I’m smelling the rain we can smell before it rains. It’s the odor of another world, I’m convinced, and means nothing, yet here it is, and here sweetly it comes from the gray sky into the small openings. CHOKECHERRY Early fog, the morning
dirt off the shovel, returned it to the shed. I remember feeling that strange satisfaction I’d often felt after yardwork, some evidence of what I’d done visible for a change. I remember that after their shock, their grief, I expected to be praised. OKLAHOMA CITY The accused chose to plead innocent because he was guilty. We allowed such a thing; it was one of our greatnesses, nutty, protective. On the car radio a survivor’s ordeal, her leg amputated without anesthesia while
phone book, our hearts, offer a little toast to what goes on. THEIR DIVORCE Not them. Not even with the best binoculars on the bluest day could I have seen it coming. Not with scrutiny’s microscope, or with the help of history or gossip. Of all people, not them. They hadn’t fallen in love with others. Not even a night of drink or proximity’s slow burn drove them to lapse, say, with a coworker. It means no one can know what goes on in the pale trappings of bedrooms, in
had to stop for gas. I had to make the bed I hadn’t made since she left. Was the indoor cat in? Were the windows down? All the way to the airport I tried to time amber, beat red. I parked in short term. I ran. Man of urgency. Man of what later, with feeling, might be sung. RUBBING “Anything that you rub long enough becomes beautiful.” —JIM OPINSKY I once saw a painter smear black paint on a bad blue sky, then rub it in until that lie of hers was gone. I’ve seen men
men in the sky. The telephone men in the cupped palm of the long arm are reducing the static, helping me reach far out of town. They are beautiful in their hard orange plumage. Finches and cardinals: mere birds by comparison, unchangeable, nervous. It’s a shame the men must come down. I stood next to them at the 7-Eleven at lunch break, heard them order ham and cheese on a hard roll, Dr Pepper. I saw them get out of their trucks and spit. Now the leaves graze their shoulders suddenly