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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.

Night Seasons

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 perfect silence
For the voice to begin,
This synthetic child
Reading to an old man.

The body, stalled,
Picks fragments,
Frottage,
Scraps of paper,
Whatever comes.

Pico della Mirandola,
Egyptian love poems,
Essene communes beside the Red Sea,
Paavo Haavikko’s “König Harald”…
An old professor,
Bitter at the graceful way
The poets have
Of gathering terms
Inexactly,
Told me, “The poets are fools.
They read
Only in fragments.”

I’m the fool
Of the night seasons,
Reading anything, anything.
When daylight comes
And you see me on the street
Or standing for the bus,
Think of the Greek term
Entelechy,
Word for soul and body
Constructing each other
After dark.

 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

At times the blind see light,
And that moment is the Sistine ceiling,

Grace among buildings—no one asks
For it, no one asks.

After all, this is solitude,
Daylight’s finger,

Blake’s angel
Parting willow leaves.

I should know better.
Get with the business

Of

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

poem

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,