Robin Wyatt Dunn (Western Voices 2020)

Exclusive: Western Voices, 2020: Edited by Scott Thomas Outlar
Bio: Robin Wyatt Dunn was born in Wyoming in 1979. You can read more of his work at

 - 1 -
the name of the dark is mine
whose right and reaches stem the iron of my thoughts
too deep for reason or regret.

the way the day folds into the break
street on metal
cloth on face
the way the body readies for the breach
against the peach of light streaking by--

all underneath

all underneath I can glue the pieces onto my face
some horrifying Jupiter
father of none but winds
no one but howling winds
each one my son

- 2 - 
The work is a memory of death
Like a leash from below the ground
Moving my lips to recite the names:
Each one of them my family.

A leaden pole to measure the land
Plant seeds and sing.
The winter children dancing naked for the rains.

- 3 -
The name of the world
Like the name of history
Shuts out time
Shuts out the crimes of your hands and mine
It takes its time to say
How much it’s been afraid
How easy it’d have been to lie
And flee, and die
If only it could—

The name of the world
A passenger ship
A barrier slipped beneath
A diver perched on the edge of the rock

Your voice out of the canyon—

The sound of your feet
And the way you looked away

The name of love
Never to return
Or slow
Never to say goodbye
Hereafter and eternal

Bent out of shape
Stuck to onions
Running on empty
And muttering
Dancing around in circles
Trying to remember its name

Here is my name
Once again
Stuck out of frame
Trying to nudge inside—

The power of people to imagine the world
In seeing the world
Beneath purple clouds at evening
Blue skies
White light
The urgency of drivers on the road
Tucked tight under the burning of their teeth and lips
To run—

The power of people to work the world into being
Stack by stack
Word by word
Mile by mile
Dialing the phone
And digging their hands into the dirt—

The name of men
Pitched low
To burn
The name of women
Curved high
To burn
The names of children
Called out across the canyon

The name of mud
Stuck on the shoe
And the name of the truth
Beneath your ear
Under your toes
Inside your hat
Inside your wallet
Over your head
Inside your hands
Inside your teeth
Your voice hovering around it
The melancholy reason of the truth
Nothing else outside of it—
A woodworn beam
Tucking gravely beneath the rudder and the flail
To beat the earth into a spume—

The name of my oath
Too bitter to utter
Of my devotion to you
Witch regarded and not able to speak but by eyes
Not able to move
But by degrees
To write the chapter of your deeds
Whatever they are

- -

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