From my notebook, June 2019

Stephen Kuusisto, Letters to Borges

“Well I certainly didn’t expect that to happen,” said Uncle History taking a bite out of his generous flan. Big rivers rising. Falling bridges. False teeth on the sidewalk. Three dogs, just mutts, eat scraps from a dropped styrofoam container on the corner of 57th and sixth avenue. Mostly Uncle H is bothered by hair loss. “It’s a terrible thing,” he says to no one in particular, “one has to live with his century but not become its creature.” His sister, Second cousin “Miss Yesterday” pops us and says: “you can’t fool me, that’s Freidrich Schiller!”


It’s a tragedy knowing only your neighborhood. I’m not just a blind American. I’m a psychedelic reindeer for God’s sake.

A friend, a retired submarine commander, told me about hearing the whales following his boat. “They were saying, come on out and join us….” That’s the condition of freedom.


Ad a very small boy I got lost in a huge department store in Boston. I loved every minute of it.


Miles Davis.


I’ve been in Samarkand, Lapland, and Newark, New Jersey.


I promise that today I shall do some small good.



The Finnish poet Lauri Vita dug a grave on the page
A shovel is a pen


Up River

As I’ve wronged many
Fields beside the Hudson
Shine in April.


A long list of the dead
Is like music
And the car hurries obedient.


When new green comes
Its like smoke—
Branches and shoreline.


As I’ve wronged many
I sing to myself
Sorrows of the true.


I who argue peace
Have lived in a time
Of bloody exports.


If you’ve any honesty left
America will steal
Your grief.

I like saying
I’m going on—
This road leads to a garden.


I’d get down
And beg forgiveness
If I knew where to stop.


Execution is the chariot
Of genius Blake said—
Here’s a place to weep.

Stephen Kuusisto and HarleyABOUT: Stephen Kuusisto is the author of the memoirs Have Dog, Will Travel; Planet of the Blind (a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”); and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and of the poetry collections Only Bread, Only Light and Letters to Borges. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a Fulbright Scholar, he has taught at the University of Iowa, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and Ohio State University. He currently teaches at Syracuse University where he holds a University Professorship in Disability Studies. He is a frequent speaker in the US and abroad. His website is

Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey is now available for pre-order:
Barnes and Noble

Have Dog, Will Travel by Stephen Kuusisto

(Photo picturing the cover of Stephen Kuusisto’s new memoir “Have Dog, Will Travel” along with his former guide dogs Nira (top) and Corky, bottom.) Bottom photo by Marion Ettlinger 

Author: skuusisto

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

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