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B.H. Fairchild

B.H. Fairchild

B.H. Fairchild's poetry has appeared in the New Yorker, Poetry, Paris Review, Hudson Review, and other journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2000 and 2010. His awards include The National Book Critics' Circle Award in Poetry, and his most recent collection, Usher, was chosen by the Los Angeles Times as one of their 25 favorite books in poetry or fiction for 2009.


Today I'll write a poem about myself—
not like the other poems I've written
about myself.  No, this one will be more
truthful, or at least more sincere. It's my
sincere self that's writing today, the self
that longs for intimacy, or some intimacy,
at least. My sincere self says: I work hard,
I try the best I can; I'm often a good person.
But today the self I'm writing about is also
more likeable than the self I wrote about
yesterday, not silly-likeable or I'll-give-you-
money likeable, but trust-worthy-likeable,
that is, more trust-worthy than not, trust-
worthy enough to be trusted. I want to be
completely honest about this. I want you
to see me ripping off my clothes and rising
before you shy and vulnerable, prepared
to tell my deepest secrets, or deep enough
for you to think they're hugely deep, which
they will be, most of them, more than half.
I want you to see me on the brink of tears,
my whole body on the brink of tears,
my elbows on the brink of tears, my feet,
my thumbs, my earlobes, my hair follicles,
even my genitals on the brink of tears,
each testicle on the brink of tears, big
ball, little ball, and each totally sincere.
I don't want any confusion about this.
I know at times I've stretched the truth.
For example, my dysfunctional childhood,
that spanking I once told you about had,
in fact, no sexual component. That time
I fell down stairs?  I shouldn't have said
I was pushed. And my sexual conquests?
My last girlfriend said I should have been
a monk; she said it would have saved me
years of embarrassment. In fact, she was
more a girl-acquaintance, than a girlfriend,
someone I sat next to on a cross-town bus.
So she's not the one who matters here. I'm
the one who matters. I want you to see me
with my arms out-stretched to reveal truth
stripped of hyperbole and sexual overkill,
sincerity throbbing like an exposed artery.
They're rustling within me like red squirrels
in the walls of a farm house: an old Cape Cod
on a dirt road with maples by the front door.
If you climb the steps, enter the hall, you can
hear those squirrels as well, all that sincerity
getting ready to make a vast display of itself,
the story of my sacrifices and beating the odds.  
But as we wait for the big subjects to role out
take a look at that picture on the wall, the one
showing the man waving hello from the yard.
Can you guess who it is? What a friendly face!
Would you like to meet him? It's me, of course.
We can sit on the stairs, hand in hand. Reader
and writer, together at last. Then I might ask
a single favor, an infinitesimal sweetness taken
from the truth beating its wings between us.
May I rest my head on your shoulder? Then,
in no more than a moment or two, you also,
will have a chance to speak. Trust me on this.


Stephen Dunn

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