From a Notebook, or Morning Jog

Stephen Kuusisto, Letters to Borges

If you don’t like the dream, change it. Turn your dial from hearse to horse. Don’t kid yourself: the carbon underworld takes any charge. My hearse, well, it shivers, stands, becomes a stallion, runs off. So what I’m flip with grief? The grim reaper has a tear in his underpants. They fly off, crow like. Ha ha! Naked reaper. Now he’s just another dead guy.


My uncle M drank. Preferred vodka. Sometimes he’d go into the old horse barn and strike discarded radiators with a hammer. He was musical that way.


In my poems, or, go ask Freud

Old lovers flit through the trees—

Ah but what kind of trees—

Birches with gold ringlets

By the lake


High in the branches

They look down on me

Just a boy really


For mushrooms


Go to meetings with college faculty. More and more they speak neoliberal platitudes. They can’t hear themselves, or choose not to. Focus group. Task force. Sustainability. So I think about the Kreutzer Sonata—not Tolstoy, Beethoven, the second movement. I’m lucky, can replay the whole thing in my head.


It’s been said British writers have an elegiac sensibility while American writing is more optimistic. I don’t think so. America is a ghastly place. Writers have to move fast. Running for your life only looks like optimism—no one should mistake desperation for belief. Even Whitman would agree.


Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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