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The Sudden Light And The Trees -- Stephen Dunn

Guest poem submitted by Sarah Korah:

I've seen just one poem by Stephen Dunn on Minstrels. Here's an attempt to
change the status quo :).
(Poem #1533) The Sudden Light And The Trees
 My neighbor was a biker, a pusher, a dog
 and wife beater.
 In bad dreams I killed him

 and once, in the consequential light of day,
 I called the Humane Society
 about Blue, his dog. They took her away

 and I readied myself, a baseball bat
 inside my door.
 That night I hear his wife scream

 and I couldn't help it, that pathetic
 relief; her again, not me.
 It would be years before I'd understand

 why victims cling and forgive. I plugged in
 the Sleep-Sound and it crashed
 like the ocean all the way to sleep.

 One afternoon I found him
 on the stoop,
 a pistol in his hand, waiting,

 he said, for me. A sparrow had gotten in
 to our common basement.
 Could he have permission

 to shoot it? The bullets, he explained,
 might go through the floor.
 I said I'd catch it, wait, give me

 a few minutes and, clear-eyed, brilliantly
 afraid, I trapped it
 with a pillow. I remember how it felt

 when I got my hand, and how it burst
 that hand open
 when I took it outside, a strength

 that must have come out of hopelessness
 and the sudden light
 and the trees. And I remember

 the way he slapped the gun against
 his open palm,
 kept slapping it, and wouldn't speak.
-- Stephen Dunn
This is a grim poem. There's something ominously menacing in the image of a
man slapping a gun against his open palm.

I felt an almost palpable sense of relief towards the end of the poem. A
doomed sparrow finds strength in its hopelessness, the 'clear-eyed,
brilliantly afraid' poet nevertheless faces the sullen protagonist. Bird and
beast have already escaped. Something tells me that there's hope in the
sudden light and trees.

I was poignantly, and somewhat pointlessly, reminded of the lines 'All the
history of grief, An empty doorway and a maple leaf' when I read this poem.

About Stephen Dunn :

Stephen Dunn won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection
titled Different Hours. Dunn is currently a Distinguished Professor of
Creative Writing at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. He lives in
Port Republic, New Jersey.

Stephen Dunn was born in New York City in 1939. He earned a B.A. in history
and English from Hofstra University, attended the New School Writing
Workshops, and finished his M.A. in creative writing at Syracuse University.
Dunn has worked as a professional basketball player, an advertising
copywriter, and an editor, as well as a professor of creative writing.

Dunn's books of poetry include Loosestrife: New and Selected Poems,
1974-1994; Landscape at the End of the Century; and Between Angels.

Minstrels has run one of Dunn's poems before.
http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/1063.html

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My neighbor is a drug dealer, and his wife is a slutty bitch who cheat on him everytime she can do it, and that's why I feel so lucky, because I don't have money, but my wife loves me as anyone do it. "The light is always shinning in front of me and saying how I can reach happiness.

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