Vivaldi

By Stuart Dybek b. 1942 Stuart Dybek
When I met Vivaldi it was dark,
a ragman lashed his horse’s bells,
streets tilted into slow wind tunnels,
 
no, it was another night, in winter,
snow as soft as opium, two winoes wassailed
down an alley through a milk truck’s ruts,
 
in the subways a violin was whistling
down chrome tracks, past cobalt semaphores,
rats and pennies underneath the 3rd rail . . .
 
Has it never been so quiet that you’ve heard
the manhole covers rumble when the El goes overhead?
Icicles growing? Could you tell the difference
between the sound of filaments in light bulbs
burning down, and a dulcimer played in a padded cell?
 
A meager music hovers everywhere:
at mouths of drains, echoing stairwells
where girls in muslin disappear
whispering “allegro.”
 
When I closed my eyes,
less than a ghost,
Vivaldi cupped a mouth harp
like a match against the wind.

Stuart Dybek, "Vivaldi" from Brass Knuckles. Copyright © 1979 by Stuart Dybek, published by University of Pittsburgh Press. Reprinted by permission of Stuart Dybek.

Source: Brass Knuckles (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1979)

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Poet Stuart Dybek b. 1942

Subjects Nature, Weather, Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

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 Stuart  Dybek

Biography

Poet and fiction writer Stuart Dybek was born in 1942 and raised on the South Side of Chicago. He attended Loyola University in Chicago and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His collections of poetry include Brass Knuckles (1979) and Streets in Their Own Ink (2004). His works of fiction, including the short story collections Childhood and Other Neighborhoods (1980) and The Coast of Chicago (1990), and the novel-in-stories I Sailed . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Weather, Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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