Stephen Dobyns

April 25, 2017 Dobyns Stephen



A gunshot: the trigger so light

he’d hardly known he pulled it;

another man’s pistol grabbed from

an antique table with clawed feet

that he had bought last week—


before the fight and her departure—

bought driving to Memphis, the late

honeymoon they had been planning,

not realizing the antique salesman

was such a rascal, the same rascal


who’d shown up at their wedding

in Knoxville, oh, two months back,

a wedding in an art gallery with

watercolors by his cousin, delicate,

gray landscapes of the Smokies,


the cousin who’d brought the friend

nobody knew, an antique dealer

who flirted with his wife, his bride,

a girl he had loved since high school,

since tenth grade history, the teacher—


whose name he couldn’t remember—

who he’d once helped change a tire

on her van when she broke down

high up on the parkway and where

the boy had stared across the valley,


as if at a string of tomorrows, their

abundant on-goingness to the haze-

shaded horizon, an April morning,

the valley with its meandering river,

white barns, cows like black pinpricks.


Stephen Dobyns has published thirteen books of poems, twenty novels, two books of essays on poetry and a book of short stories (Eating Naked, Holt/Metropolitan, 2000). His most recent work is a book of essays, Next Word, Better Word, published by Palgrave, in April 2011. His fifth book, Black Dog, Red Dog, was a winner in the National Poetry Series. His sixth book, Cemetery Nights, received the Poetry Society of America’s Melville Cane Award in 1987. Two of his novels, Cold Dog Soup and The Two Deaths of Senora Puccini have been made into films and another novel is currently under option.