How many of you tell the person you lust for that they make your body ache?

How many try and listen to what faces are telling us, over kitchen counters and across rooms, behind screens illuminating silence?

How many of you are not afraid to care and then say you care and then take that care forward into infinite sadness?

Me, I am never afraid of love. I am only always afraid of the transformations within love, when little rituals in and out of bed could signal a shift in faith. But love itself, as Um Kulthoum would say, is never at fault.

Me, I love Stephen Dunn.

Stephen Dunn


Safe to say that most men who want
to communicate,
who would use that word, are shameless

and their souls long ago have drifted
out of their bodies
to faraway, unpolluted air.

Such men no doubt have learned women
are starved
for communication, that it’s the new way

to get new women, and admission of weakness
works best of all.
Even some smart women are fooled,

though the smartest know that to communicate
is a form of withholding,
a commercial for intimacy while the heart

hides in its little pocket of words.
And women use the word too,
everyone who doesn’t have the gift

of communication uses it.
It’s like the abused
asking for love, never having known

what it feels like, not trusting it
if it lacks pain.
But let’s say that a good man and a good woman,

with no motives other than desire
for greater closeness,
who’ve heard communication is the answer,

sign up for a course at the Y,
seek counseling,
set aside two hours in the week

for significant talk. What hope for them?
Should we tell them
very little, or none at all?

As little or none as there is for us,
who’ve cut
right to the heart, and still conceal,

who’ve loved many times well into the night
in good silence
and have awakened, strangely distant,

thinking thoughts no one should ever know?


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