Ok, so he has won a Pulitzer, so really, I should not be this envious that I simply cannot conjure up poetry like this. Maybe its age, maybe its nationality or practice or habit or instinct. Maybe its sheer fucking talent and that is all there is to it. I keep trying to stay away from stalking this poet online, but every once in a while I return. I return because he mixes the daily with the metaphysical, in a self deprecating, honest, cynical and passionate way. He manages to make even nature interesting, when I am bored to tears by any poem dealing with nature.
Well here is a gorgeous poem about nature. Its not really about nature. Who knows what it is about. I love it. I love the poet too. The brilliant mr Stephen Dunn.
Landscape At The End Of The Century
by Stephen Dunn
The sky in the trees, the trees mixed up
with what’s left of heaven, nearby a patch
of daffodils rooted down
where dirt and stones comprise a kind
of night, unmetaphysical, cool as a skeptic’s
final sentence. What this scene needs
is a nude absentmindedly sunning herself
on a large rock, thinks the man fed up
with nature, or perhaps a lost tiger,
the maximum amount of wildness a landscape
can bear, but the man knows and fears
his history of tampering with everything,
and besides to anyone who might see him
he’s just a figure in a clearing
in a forest in a universe
that is as random as desire itself,
his desire in particular, so much going on
with and without him, moles humping up
the ground near the daffodils, a mockingbird
publishing its cacaphonous anthology,
and those little Calvinists, the ants,
making it all the more difficult
for a person in America
to close his office, skip to the beach.
But what this scene needs are wisteria
and persimmons, thinks the woman
sunning herself absentmindedly on the rock,
a few magnificent words that one
might want to eat if one were a lover
of words, the hell with first principles,
the noon sun on my body, tempered
by a breeze that cannot be doubted.
And as she thinks, she who exists
only in the man’s mind, a deer grazes
beyond their knowing, a deer tick riding
its back, and in the gifted air
mosquitos, dragonflies, and tattered
mute angels no one has called upon in years.
Here is another one, and I am pretty sure I know a certain brown eyed someone who will chuckle at this. I found it funny.
At The Smithville Methodist Church
by Stephen Dunn
It was supposed to be Arts & Crafts for a week,
but when she came home
with the “Jesus Saves” button, we knew what art
was up, what ancient craft.She liked her little friends. She liked the songs
they sang when they weren’t
twisting and folding paper into dolls.
What could be so bad?Jesus had been a good man, and putting faith
in good men was what
we had to do to stay this side of cynicism,
that other sadness.
OK, we said, One week. But when she came home
singing “Jesus loves me,
the Bible tells me so,” it was time to talk.
Could we say Jesus
doesn’t love you? Could I tell her the Bible
is a great book certain people use
to make you feel bad? We sent her back
without a word.
It had been so long since we believed, so long
since we needed Jesus
as our nemesis and friend, that we thought he was
that our children would think of him like Lincoln
or Thomas Jefferson.
Soon it became clear to us: you can’t teach disbelief
to a child,
only wonderful stories, and we hadn’t a story
nearly as good.
On parents’ night there were the Arts & Crafts
all spread out
like appetizers. Then we took our seats
in the church
and the children sang a song about the Ark,
and one in which they had to jump up and down
I can’t remember ever feeling so uncertain
about what’s comic, what’s serious.
Evolution is magical but devoid of heroes.
You can’t say to your child
“Evolution loves you.” The story stinks
of extinction and nothing
exciting happens for centuries. I didn’t have
a wonderful story for my child
and she was beaming. All the way home in the car
she sang the songs,
occasionally standing up for Jesus.
There was nothing to do
but drive, ride it out, sing along