Biography In The First Person by Stephen Dunn
This is not the way I am.
Really, I am much taller in person,
the hairline I conceal reaches back
to my grandfather, and the shyness my wife
will not believe in has always been why
I was bold on first dates.
My father a crack salesman.
I’ve saved his pines, the small acclamations
I used to show my friends.
And the billyclub
I keep by my bed was his, too; an heirloom.
I am somewhat older than you can tell.
The early deaths have decomposed
behind my eyes, leaving lines apparently caused
My voice still reflects the time
I believed in prayer as a way of getting
what I wanted.
I am none of my clothes.
My poems are approximately true.
The games I play and how I play them
are the arrows you should follow: they’ll take you
to the enormous body of a child.
It is not
At parties I have been known to remove
from the bookshelf the kind of book
that goes best with my beard.
My habits in bed are so perverse that they differentiate me
from no one.
And I prefer soda, the bubbles just after
it’s opened, to anyone who just lies there.
I would like to make you believe in me.
When I come home at night after teaching myself
to students, I want to search the phone book
for their numbers, call them, and pick their brains.
Oh, I am much less flamboyant than this.
If you ever meet me, I’ll be the one with the lapel
full of carnations.