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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, December 22, 2016.
About this Poem 

“When my former student Jan Richardson’s husband died unexpectedly, I wrote her, and before long, she sent me some poems. I found I couldn’t stop thinking about a couple of Jan’s lines, so I asked her if she minded my using them as a title for my own poem, one that is different from hers but that strives for the same intensity.”
—David Kirby

I Have Not Come Here to Compare Notes But to Sit Together in the Stillness at the Edge of This Wound

Asked if it isn’t weird to be at an awards ceremony with Gregory Peck,
Dylan says, “Well, listen, everything’s weird. You tell me something

that’s not weird.” He might as well have said “big,” that his songs are
a witness to magnitude, that your poems are. And why shouldn’t they be?

Look at the epic of your life, at the people in it, all heroic. And to think
it began with an accident. Somebody looked up at the night sky and saw a star,

somebody in Cracow or Belgrade, maybe, or the city where you live now.
Carbon, nitrogen . . . there was an explosion, and now you have to pay attention

to everything. At the party, everyone was talking about the crappy TV series
that’s so popular, and you didn’t say you wanted better, wanted more.

That same night, you met the man you’d love so hard it made your teeth hurt.
He said, “Hey, baby,” and you snapped, “I’m not your baby.”

I have nothing to say to you, really. I just want to see what I’m looking at.
I want so much not to listen to you after all this time but to hear.

Copyright © 2016 by David Kirby. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 22, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by David Kirby. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 22, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

David Kirby

David Kirby

David Kirby is the author of Get Up, Please (Louisiana State University Press, 2016). 

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            Poetry does make things happen. A friend says, "I wanted
to let you know that my stepfather is chattering like
            a schoolboy about a poem of yours on my Facebook page.
This may not seem like much to you, but this guy has been
            giving me a hard time since I was

poem

The two musicians pour forth their souls abroad
                         in such an ecstasy as to charm the audience
             like none I’ve ever seen before, and when
they finish, they rise and hug each other,
                         and then the tabla player bends down
and touches