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.
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