Here and Now

Stephen Dunn

 
            for Barbara
        There are words
I've had to save myself from,
like My Lord and Blessed Mother,
words I said and never meant,
though I admit a part of me misses
the ornamental stateliness
of High Mass, that smell
        of incense. Heaven did exist,
I discovered, but was reciprocal
and momentary, like lust
felt at exactly the same time—
two mortals, say, on a resilient bed,
making a small case for themselves.
        You and I became the words
I'd say before I'd lay me down to sleep,
and again when I'd wake—wishful
words, no belief in them yet.
It seemed you'd been put on earth
to distract me
from what was doctrinal and dry.
Electricity may start things,
but if they're to last
I've come to understand
a steady, low-voltage hum
        of affection
must be arrived at. How else to offset
the occasional slide
into neglect and ill temper?
I learned, in time, to let heaven
go its mythy way, to never again
        be a supplicant
of any single idea. For you and me
it's here and now from here on in.
Nothing can save us, nor do we wish
to be saved.
        Let night come
with its austere grandeur,
ancient superstitions and fears.
It can do us no harm.
We'll put some music on,
open the curtains, let things darken
as they will.
 
From Here and Now, published by W.W. Norton. Copyright © 2011 by Stephen Dunn. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Charlotte Brontë in Leeds Point by Stephen Dunn
From her window marshland stretched for miles.
Mrs. Cavendish and the Dancer by Stephen Dunn
Mrs. Cavendish desired the man in the fedora
The Kiss by Stephen Dunn
How many years I must have yearned
The Routine Things Around the House by Stephen Dunn
When Mother died
What Goes On by Stephen Dunn
After the affair and the moving out


Further Reading

Poems about Music
08/22/08
by David Lehman
A Book Of Music
by Jack Spicer
A Score for Tourist Movies
by Mary Austin Speaker
A Violin at Dusk
by Lizette Woodworth Reese
Alexander's Feast; or, the Power of Music
by John Dryden
B-Sides from my Idol Tryouts
by Harmony Holiday
Beagle or Something
by April Bernard
Fiddler Jones
by Edgar Lee Masters
Get Up, Please
by David Kirby
Go Greyhound
by Bob Hicok
Honky Tonk in Cleveland, Ohio
by Carl Sandburg
Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness
by John Donne
Hymn to the Night
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Interlude: Still Still
by Robin Behn
Latin & Soul
by Victor Hernández Cruz
Little Fugue
by Marianne Boruch
Lost Fugue for Chet
by Lynda Hull
Lullaby in Blue
by Betsy Sholl
Mozart
by Caroline Knox
Ode to Lil’ Kim in Florence
by Barbara Hamby
On 52nd Street
by Philip Levine
Passing Through Albuquerque
by John Balaban
Poem for You
by David Shapiro
Record
by Katrina Vandenberg
Street Music
by Robert Pinsky
The Banjo Player
by Fenton Johnson
The Day Duke Raised: May 24th, 1974
by Quincy Troupe
The Everyday Enchantment of Music
by Mark Strand
The Guitar
by Federico García Lorca
The Last Evening
by Steven Kronen
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
by Edward Lear
The Supremes
by Mark Jarman
The Waltz We Were Born For
by Walt McDonald
The Weary Blues
by Langston Hughes
The World Doesn’t Want Me Anymore, and It Doesn’t Know It
by Sean Singer
Two Pages, 122 Words on Music and Dance
by John Cage
Untitled
by David Meltzer
Water Music
by Robert Creeley
Poems about Night
A Clear Midnight
by Walt Whitman
Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight
by Vachel Lindsay
Acquainted with the Night
by Robert Frost
At Deep Midnight
by Minnie Bruce Pratt
At Night
by Yone Noguchi
At Night the States
by Alice Notley
Breaking Across Us Now
by Katie Ford
Flying at Night
by Ted Kooser
Hard Night
by Christian Wiman
Hellish Night
by Arthur Rimbaud
Hymn to the Night
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In the City of Night
by John Gould Fletcher
La Noche
by Anselm Hollo
Last
by Maxine Scates
Late Night Ode
by J. D. McClatchy
Let Evening Come
by Jane Kenyon
Meeting at Night
by Robert Browning
Mother Night
by James Weldon Johnson
Night
by Carsten René Nielsen
Night Air
by C. Dale Young
Night Blooming Jasmine
by Giovanni Pascoli
Night Drafts
by Tony Sanders
Night Funeral in Harlem
by Langston Hughes
Night Songs
by Thomas Kinsella
Nights On The Peninsula
by D. Nurkse
On a Night Like This
by Michael Teig
One Night
by Mathias Svalina
Radar Data #12
by Lytton Smith
Rhapsody on a Windy Night
by T. S. Eliot
Sawdust
by Sharon Bryan
Ships That Pass in the Night
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Summer Night, Riverside
by Sara Teasdale
Summer Stars
by Carl Sandburg
The First Night
by Billy Collins
The Sun Has Long Been Set
by William Wordsworth
To Night
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Unity
by Pablo Neruda
Window
by Carl Sandburg