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Stephen Dunn

11-09-2010

The Insistence of Beauty

The day before those silver planes
came out of the perfect blue, I was struck
by the beauty of pollution rising
from smokestacks near Newark,
gray and white ribbons of it
on their way to evanescence.

And at impact, no doubt, certain beholders
and believers from another part of the world
must have seen what appeared gorgeous -
the flames of something theirs being born.

I watched for hours – mesmerized -
that willful collision replayed,
the better man in me not yielding,
then yielding to revenge’s sweet surge.

The next day there was a photograph
of dust and smoke ghosting a street,
and another of a man you couldn’t be sure
was fear-frozen or dead or made of stone,

and for a while I was pleased
to admire the intensity – or was it the coldness? -
of each photographer’s good eye.
For years I’d taken pride in resisting

the obvious – sunsets, snowy peaks,
a starlet’s face – yet had come to realize
even those, seen just right, can have
their edgy place. And the sentimental,

beauty’s sloppy cousin, that enemy,
can’t it have a place too?
Doesn’t a tear deserve a close-up?
When word came of a fireman

who hid in the rubble
so his dispirited search dog
could have someone to find, I repeated it
to everyone I knew. I did this for myself,
not for community or beauty’s sake,
yet soon it had a rhythm and a frame.

              -from The Insistence of Beauty



Archive


Kim Addonizio 03-14-08

Agha Shahid Ali 09-14-07

Alice Anderson 11-16-08

Christianne Balk 07-27-07

Brian Barker 07-07-07

Polina Barskova 09-13-2010

Bruce Beasley 11-22-08

Nicky Beer 09-06-2010

Nicky Beer 08-22-08

Nathaniel Bellows 04-27-09

Ciaran Berry 01-25-09

Linda Bierds 08-31-07

Kristin Bock 08-17-09

Brian Brodeur 03-29-09

Michelle Boisseau 09-20-2010

Anne Caston 09-24-09

Nicole Cooley 04-05-09

Nicole Cuddeback 03-07-08

Elizabeth Biller Chapman 01-25-08

Steve Davenport 03-29-2010

Cortney Davis 05-03-09

Todd Davis 11-01-2010

Elizabeth Dodd 09-05-08

Karen Donovan 04-15-07

Mark Doty 04-11-08

Lynn Emanuel 08-30-2010

B. H. Fairchild  09-04-09

Nick Flynn 10-04-2010

Carolyn Forche 09-21-07

James Galvin 02-23-07

Margaret Gibson 01-24-10

Mary Jo Firth Gillett 02-22-08

Dana Gioia 08-23-2010

Eugene Gloria 09-20-08

Louise Gluck 03-17-2010

Kevin Goodan 08-29-08

Robert Grunst 11-16-07

Elizabeth Hadaway 06-15-07

Donald Hall 02-10-07

Jeff Hardin 08-10-07

Brooks Haxton 03-08-10

Seamus Heaney 09-11-09

Dennis Hinrichsen 11-02-07

Andrew Hudgins 11-21-09

Lynda Hull 05-20-07

Major Jackson 05-02-2010

Mark Jarman 10-19-08

Rodney Jones 10-26-09

Barbara Jordan 02-02-09

Brigit Pegeen Kelly 10-12-08

Jane Kenyon 04-01-07

James Kimbrell 04-07-2010

James Kimbrell 01-19-07

Galway Kinnell 11-09-07

Yusef Komunyakaa 07-15-07
Phil Levine 06-03-07

Eleanor Lerman 11-02-08

Larry Levis 04-04-08

Larry Levis 02-08-2010

Sandy Longhorn 04-26-08

Corey Marks 10-03-07

Adrian Matejka 04-18-08

Davis McCombs 01-18-08

Michael McGriff 02-22-09

Jay Meek 01-16-2010

Anne Michaels 01-18-09
Nils Michals 02-29-08

Malena Morling 05-12-08

Simone Muench 02-08-08

Sharon Olds 02-22-07

Sharon Olds 10-19-07

Michael Ondaatje 02-01-2010

Eric Pankey 09-07-07

Gregory Pardlo 06-22-07

Ed Pavlic 09-28-07

Oliver de la Paz 02-15-2010

Lucia Perillo 12-04-09

Donald Platt 02-15-08

Joshua Poteat 11-3-09

Amy Randolph 03-01-09

Robert Randolph 12-12-09

Adrienne Rich 04-20-2010

David Roderick 12-07-07

Pattiann Rogers 3-21-08

Steve Scafidi 10-09-09

Jim Schley 10-19-09

Tim Seibles 10-08-07

David Shumate 10-26-08

Dave Smith 04-10-09

Katherine Soniat 11-30-07

Gary Soto 03-23-07

Mark Sullivan 08-28-09

Frank Standford 10-25-2010

Mark Strand 02-22-2010

Mark Svenvold 03-23-09
Brian Turner 05-13-07

Tribute to Virginia Tech 04-24-07

Charles Harper Webb 10-12-07

C.K. Williams 05-25-07

Susan B.A. Somers-Willett 06-29-07

Charles Wright 01-27-07

Robert Wrigley 10-11-2010

Robert Wrigley 08-17-07

Robert Wrigley 04-09-07
Robert Wrigley 02-03-07