Traveling Salesman

By Stuart Dybek b. 1942 Stuart Dybek
        He finds himself stepping off the bus in some burg he’s already bored with. Picking his teeth for 200 miles—here’s where he spits the toothpick out. Past Holiday Inn the neighborhoods get dark. All-night laundromats where women with circles under their eyes press laundered underwear, warm as bread, against their sinuses. Finally, he’s signing the register at a funeral home where he knows no one, but is mistaken for a long-lost friend of the deceased, for someone who has dislocated his life to make the hazardous journey on a night when the dead man’s own children have avoided him. Once again instinct has taken him where he’s needed; where the unexpected transforms routine into celebration. He kneels before the corpse, striking his forehead against the casket.

Stuart Dybek, “Traveling Salesman” from Brass Knuckles, published by University of Pittsburgh Press. Copyright © 1979 by Stuart Dybek. Reprinted by permission of Stuart Dybek.

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

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Poet Stuart Dybek b. 1942

Subjects Living, Death, Activities, Jobs & Working, Travels & Journeys

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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 Living, Death, Activities, Jobs & Working, Travels & Journeys

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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