by Stephen Dunn

It was the hour of simply nothing,

not a single desire in my western heart,

and no ancient system

of breathing and postures,

no big idea justifying what I felt.


There was even an absence of despair.


“Anything goes,” I said to myself.

All the clocks were high. Above them,

hundreds of stars flickering if, if, if.

Everywhere in the universe, it seemed,

some next thing was gathering itself.


I started to feel something,

but it was nothing more than a moment

passing into another, or was it less

eloquent than that, purely muscular,

some meaningless twitch?


I’d let someone else make it rhyme.

STEPHEN DUNN (born 1939) has written fifteen collections of poetry, including Different Hours (where “Zero Hour” appears), winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. A recipient of the Academy Award in Literature fro the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he has also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Guggenheim Foundation, and Rockefeller Foundation.

Photo: “Cloud Water Circle” by Gail Walks Across, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED