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About this poet

Stephen Kuusisto was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1955. He received a BA from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and an MFA from the University of Iowa. He is the author of the poetry collections Letters to Borges (Copper Canyon Press, 2013) and Only Bread, Only Light (Copper Canyon Press, 2000). He is also the author of several works of nonfiction, including Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey (Simon & Schuster), which is forthcoming in 2018. Kuusisto, who was born legally blind, is a disability rights activist and has served as a cultural diplomat for the U. S. State Department. He currently teaches at Syracuse University in New York.

Learning Braille at Thirty-Nine

The dry universe
Gives up its fruit,

Black seeds are raining,
Pascal dreams of a wristwatch,

And heaven help me
The metempsychosis of book

Is upon me. I hunch over it,
The boy in the asylum

Whose fingers leapt for words.
(In the dark books are living things,

Quiescent as cats.)
Each time we lift them

We feel again
The ache of amazement

Under summer stars.
It’s a dread thing

To be lonely
Without reason.

My window stays open
And I study late

As quick, musical laughter
Rises from the street

And I rub grains of the moon
In my hands.

 From Only Bread, Only Light (Copper Canyon Press, 2000). Copyright © 2000 by Stephen Kuusisto. Used with the permission of the author.

 From Only Bread, Only Light (Copper Canyon Press, 2000). Copyright © 2000 by Stephen Kuusisto. Used with the permission of the author.

Stephen Kuusisto

Stephen Kuusisto

Stephen Kuusisto is the author of the poetry collections Letters to Borges (Copper Canyon Press, 2013) and Only Bread, Only Light (Copper Canyon Press, 2000). 

by this poet

poem

Up late, reading alone,
I feed printed pages
Into the Kurzweil scanner,
An electronic reader
For the blind.

Randomly now
I take books from my shelves,
Open the mysterious volumes,
And lay them flat on the machine.
I can’t say
What’s coming next—
I wait in

poem

When I was a boy I made a beehive
From old letters—dark scraps from a trunk,
Lost loves; assurances from travelers.
It was intricate work.
The blind kid and the worker bee lost whole days.
I made a library for inchworms.

Now I’m a natural philosopher but with

poem

There is at times a small fire
In the brain, partita for violin,
Brier, black stem,
All burning in the quarter notes.
And the hedgerow
Beyond the barn
Calls its starlings in.
Then frost, sere leaves,
A swollen half-moon
Like a drowsy fingertip
Above the apple trees