What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Wyatt Prunty

Wyatt Prunty is director of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. His books include The Times Between (1982), What Women Know, What Men Believe (1986), Balance as Belief, (1989), The Run of the House (1993), and Since the Noon Mail Stopped (1997), all published by Johns Hopkins University Press. His most recent collection of poems, Unarmed and Dangerous: New and Selected Poems, appeared in 2000. Oxford University Press published his critical work on contemporary poetry, “Fallen from the Symboled World”:Precedents for the New Formalism (1990). He is general editor of the Sewanee Writers’ Series, published by Sewanee in conjunction with the Overlook Press. He recently received a residency from The Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center and a fellowship from The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Transcript: Wyatt Prunty

The Returning Dead
by Wyatt Prunty

Each night I make a drink and wait for them
They have become the day’s concluding news,
Installments from a world without anthems
Or children, unfocusing eyes

A question that repeatedly rejects
My easy terms. They are ones who believed
And acted in the narrow and select
Ways handed them, while ordinary lives

Ran on without interruption
Or bad pictures, as though nothing had changed
Change is the one unanswerable question
Of these faces. The world can rearrange

Itself repeatedly, but these remain
The same, silent in everything they lack;
That’s what they’ve come to, in places with names
Like Afghanistan, Iraq,

And this is the way it happens: the words
Are old – mother, father, home – and will catch
Surrounding currents in the slow absurd
Descending will of any river etched

Out of a landscape history refines
To myth. The TV blanks between
Segments, but every static face defines
Itself, holds stubbornly its private scene…

Fixed, publicly, as we are led
Back to that little negative whose lack
Is each of us, staring the staring dead,
Leaning, sometimes like grief itself; then straightening back.

The Latest