Archives for posts with tag: Stuart Dybek

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CHORD
by Stuart Dybek

man steps out of sunlight,
sunlight that streams like grace,
still gaping at blue sky
staked across the emptiness of space,
into a history where shadows
assume a human face.
A man slips into silence
that began as a cry,
still trailing music
although reduced to the sigh
of an accordion
as it folds into its case.

SOURCE: “Chord” appears in Stuart Dybek‘s collection Streets in Their Own Ink (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006), available at Amazon.com.

Photo: Nick J. Stone, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Find more of his work here.

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LOST

by Stuart Dybek

I remember, though I might have dreamed it, a radio show I listened to when we lived on Eighteenth Street above the taxidermist. It was a program in which kids phoned the station and reported something they’d lost – a code ring, a cap gun, a ball, a doll – always their favorite. And worse than lost toys, pets, not just dogs and cats, but hamsters, parakeets, dime store turtles with painted shells…

Magically, by the end of the program, everything would be found. I still don’t know how they accomplished this, and recall wondering if it would work to phone in and report something I’d always wanted as missing. For it seemed to me then that something one always wanted, but never had, was his all the same, and wasn’t it lost?

SOURCE: Excerpted from The Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybek, available at Amazon.com.

IMAGE: St. Anthony, finder of lost things.

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ANGELUS
by Stuart Dybek

It’s the metallic hour
When birds lose perfect pitch
On a porch, three stories up,
against a copper window
facing the El,
a woman in a satin slip,
and the geraniums she waters,
turn gold.
 
Beneath the street the blue clapper
of a switch swings in the tunnel.
Blocks away, a crescendo overtakes
its echo, and the reverberation
is passed between strangers.
Shadows quiver like sheet metal.
High heels pace off down a platform
like one hand on a piano.
 
There’s a note struck every evening–
every evening held longer–
a clang only because it’s surrounded by silence,
chimes of small change
from the newsstand, trousers
full of keys and dimes
flopped on a chair beside the bed,
the tink of bracelets
as her arm sweeps back her hair.

SOURCE: Poetry (December 1986)

PHOTO: “Porch at Sunset, Chicago, 2006” by Jim Luepke, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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LIGHTS

by Stuart Dybek

In summer, waiting for night, we’d pose against the afterglow on corners, watching traffic cruise through the neighborhood. Sometimes, a car would go by without its headlights on and we’d all yell, “Lights!”

“Lights!” we’d keep yelling until the beams flashed on. It was usually immediate—the driver honking back thanks, or flinching embarrassed behind the steering wheel, or gunning past, and we’d see his red taillights blink on.

But there were times—who knows why?—when drunk or high, stubborn, or simply lost in that glide to somewhere else, the driver just kept driving in the dark, and all down the block we’d hear yelling from doorways and storefronts, front steps, and other corners, voices winking on like fireflies: “Lights! Your lights! Hey, lights!”

SOURCE: The Coast of Chicago: Stories by Stuart Dybek, available at Amazon.com.

PHOTO: Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, where Stuart Dybek grew up and where many of his stories are set. Photo by Eddie Railway.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stuart Dybek is the author of three books of fiction: I Sailed With Magellan, The Coast of Chicago, and Childhood and Other Neighborhoods. Dybek has also published two collections of poetry: Streets in Their Own Ink and Brass Knuckles. His fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Poetry, Tin House, and many other magazines, and have been widely anthologized, including work in both Best American Fiction and Best American Poetry. Among Dybek’s numerous awards are a PEN/Malamud Prize “for distinguished achievement in the short story,” a Lannan Award, a Whiting Writers Award, an Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, several O.Henry Prizes, and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2007 Dybek was awarded the a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Happy birthday to Stuart Dybek — novelist, poet, short story writer extraordinaire….

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WINDY CITY
by Stuart Dybek

The garments worn in flying dreams
were fashioned there—
overcoats that swooped like kites,
scarves streaming like vapor trails,
gowns ballooning into spinnakers.

In a city like that one might sail
through life led by a runaway hat.
The young scattered in whatever directions
their wild hair pointed, and gusting
into one another, fell in love.

At night, wind rippled saxophones
that hung like windchimes in pawnshop
windows, hooting through each horn
so that the streets seemed haunted
not by nighthawks, but by doves.

Pinwheels whirled from steeples
in place of crosses. At the pinnacles
of public buildings, snagged underclothes—
the only flag—flapped majestically.
And when it came time to disappear

one simply chose a thoroughfare
devoid of memories, raised a collar,
and turned his back on the wind.
I closed my eyes and stepped
into a swirl of scuttling leaves.
 
SOURCE: “Windy City” appears in Streets in Their Own Ink by Stuart Dybek. Copyright 2004 by Stuart Dybek. Available at Amazon.com.

PAINTING: “Chicago Takes a Beating” (1989) by Roger Brown (1941-1997).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Stuart Dybek is the author of three books of fiction: I Sailed With Magellan, The Coast of Chicago, and Childhood and Other Neighborhoods. Both I Sailed With Magellan and The Coast of Chicago were New York Times Notable Books, and The Coast of Chicago was a One Book One Chicago selection. Dybek has also published two collections of poetry: Streets in Their Own Ink and Brass Knuckles.  His fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Poetry, Tin House, and many other magazines, and have been widely anthologized, including work in both Best American Fiction and Best American Poetry.  Among Dybek’s numerous awards are a PEN/Malamud Prize “for distinguished achievement in the short story,” a Lannan Award, a Whiting Writers Award, an Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, several O.Henry Prizes, and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2007 Dybek was awarded the a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

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I Sailed with Magellan (Novel Excerpt)
by Stuart Dybek

I recalled the afternoon when the two of us stood beating erasers, and Camille confided that she’d done penance for stories – stories that I’ll never know if she wrote or only imagined writing. She’d wanted me to tell her a secret from my dreams, a secret from my dreams I hadn’t had as yet, and so I didn’t quite understand what she was after.

“It’s about feeling,” Camille had insisted.

I didn’t understand then that she was talking about risk.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Stuart Dybek is the author of three books of fiction: I Sailed With Magellan, The Coast of Chicago, and Childhood and Other Neighborhoods. Dybek has also published two collections of poetry: Streets in Their Own Ink and Brass Knuckles.  His fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Poetry, Tin House, and many other magazines, and have been widely anthologized, including work in both Best American Fiction and Best American Poetry.  Among Dybek’s numerous awards are a PEN/Malamud Prize “for distinguished achievement in the short story,” a Lannan Award, a Whiting Writers Award, an Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, several O.Henry Prizes, and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2007 Dybek was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Illustration: Chalk drawing found at Kidsart.com

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WINDY CITY

Poem by Stuart Dybek

The garments worn in flying dreams

were fashioned there—

overcoats that swooped like kites,

scarves streaming like vapor trails,

gowns ballooning into spinnakers.

 

In a city like that one might sail

through life led by a runaway hat.

The young scattered in whatever directions

their wild hair pointed, and gusting

into one another, fell in love.

 

At night, wind rippled saxophones

that hung like windchimes in pawnshop

windows, hooting through each horn

so that the streets seemed haunted   

not by nighthawks, but by doves.   

 

Pinwheels whirled from steeples

in place of crosses. At the pinnacles

of public buildings, snagged underclothes—

the only flag—flapped majestically.

And when it came time to disappear

 

one simply chose a thoroughfare

devoid of memories, raised a collar,

and turned his back on the wind.

I closed my eyes and stepped

into a swirl of scuttling leaves.

Photo: “Chicago Union Station,” by Jack Delano, 1943

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WINDY CITY
By Stuart Dybek

The garments worn in flying dreams
were fashioned there—
overcoats that swooped like kites,
scarves streaming like vapor trails,
gowns ballooning into spinnakers.

In a city like that one might sail
through life led by a runaway hat.
The young scattered in whatever directions
their wild hair pointed, and gusting
into one another, fell in love.

At night, wind rippled saxophones
that hung like windchimes in pawnshop
windows, hooting through each horn
so that the streets seemed haunted   
not by nighthawks, but by doves.   

Pinwheels whirled from steeples
in place of crosses. At the pinnacles
of public buildings, snagged underclothes—
the only flag—flapped majestically.
And when it came time to disappear

one simply chose a thoroughfare
devoid of memories, raised a collar,
and turned his back on the wind.
I closed my eyes and stepped
into a swirl of scuttling leaves.
 
SOURCE: “Windy City” appears in Streets in Their Own Ink by Stuart Dybek. Copyright 2004 by Stuart Dybek. Available at Amazon.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Stuart Dybek is the author of three books of fiction: I Sailed With Magellan, The Coast of Chicago, and Childhood and Other Neighborhoods. Both I Sailed With Magellan and The Coast of Chicago were New York Times Notable Books, and The Coast of Chicago was a One Book One Chicago selection. Dybek has also published two collections of poetry: Streets in Their Own Ink and Brass Knuckles.  His fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Poetry, Tin House, and many other magazines, and have been widely anthologized, including work in both Best American Fiction and Best American Poetry.  Among Dybek’s numerous awards are a PEN/Malamud Prize “for distinguished achievement in the short story,” a Lannan Award, a Whiting Writers Award, an Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, several O.Henry Prizes, and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2007 Dybek was awarded the a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Photo: Beck Cowles, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

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ANGELUS

Poem by Stuart Dybek

It’s the metallic hour

When birds lose perfect pitch

On a porch, three stories up,

against a copper window

facing the El,

a woman in a satin slip, 

and the geraniums she waters,

turn gold.

 

Beneath the street the blue clapper

of a switch swings in the tunnel.

Blocks away, a crescendo overtakes

its echo, and the reverberation

is passed between strangers.

Shadows quiver like sheet metal.

High heels pace off down a platform

like one hand on a piano.

 

There’s a note struck every evening–

every evening held longer–

a clang only because it’s surrounded by silence,

chimes of small change

from the newsstand, trousers

full of keys and dimes

flopped on a chair beside the bed,

the tink of bracelets

as her arm sweeps back her hair.

PHOTO: “Porch at Sunset, Chicago, 2006” by Jim Luepke, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED