Paul Guest

Maybe you need to embrace disappointment.

The way you don't sleep at night,

dreaming of dry dust on furniture

and the pleasant odor of plywood

and what it feels like to peel skin off

of your thumb. Maybe you should begin

that perfect novel which will

save you. Pluck you from the ruddy jaws

of a monster that is right there

beyond your failing sight. Not today,

Satan, or Ronald Reagan—

you learn that often enough evil is not about

nuance. It was raining

the day I was born

and years later I haven't learned much more

about the stars: fire

and cold light afloat in the murk of the cosmos.

Last night I read about

the doctors who removed 526 teeth

from a boy's dying jaw:

hours in they feared there was no end to it.

That his pain was infinite.

Their hands trapped.

Bits of white bone arrayed in a spiral

beside his sleeping face

and it was lovely and an evidence of the divine.

Well, not really. Maybe you

aren't real, aren't listening to the wind

as it goes through the night

like a sad prayer beneath the stippled sky.

Maybe. Just maybe things will get better.

Give it a year.





Found In Volume 49, No. 01
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Paul Guest
About the Author


Paul Guest is the author of The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World (2003), which won the New Issues Poetry Prize; Notes for My Body Double (2006), winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize; and My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge (2008). His memoir, One More Theory About Happiness (2010), recounts the bike accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down when he was 12 and charts his life since. Guest’s honors and awards include a Whiting Writers’ Award and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.