Stephen Dunn

When the neighbor’s drapes are open,                                    
I’m not like the kind of man 
who refuses to put down his binoculars
so that their steamy, good time
can remain his as well. No,

I’m exactly that kind of man,
wary of anyone who’d turn away
mid-view, skedaddle off to a room
that overlooks, say, a pond.
I’m so tired of superior smiles.

Something I’m unaware of is likely
governing me, which doesn’t excuse
these dark, bottom-feeding things
I tend to let rise into daylight.
I’ll take discredit for all of them.

Nevertheless I wish to be true to life, 
though not entirely to the one I live.
When in trouble I’ve been known
to give myself some wiggle room,
to revisit that once important sliver

of moon that slid across the Bay
to our table back when we were in love, 
to even change our names. In the world 
of feelings, aren’t attractive opposites
always nearby? — dogwood blossoms,
for example, and the springtime puffery

of rhododendrons trumping the memory,
at least for a moment, of that heat
my binoculars brought close.
Life itself is promiscuous. It feels right
to place a few renegade details together,
let them cavort. A moment later, 

it feels right to discipline them,
smack them into shape — the pink cadillac
that motored by while I was eating macaroni
and cheese, the meteor that fell
at a terrible speed and dissolved into darkness,
that apology on the tip of my tongue.

Found In Volume 39, No. 02
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Stephen Dunn
About the Author

Stephen Dunn is the author of 17 collections of poetry, including Different Hours, which won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book is Lines of Defense (W.W.Norton, 2013).