Kenneth Fields



Summer is a day. The whole world is autumn.

Leaves are falling, the river’s flowing by

Dimpled with tiny insects. They swarm in clouds,

Clusters undulating.


The last student, the pupil (someone moistens

The eyes and lips) dilates, does not stop down

At the sharp beam of the penlight. Nothing moves.

I tell myself


Do not welcome the dark though your life

Has changed. Rather, behold the heaven

Of flying things, trout rising, worlds,

Japanese lanterns in the trees.




We believe the poet had a lover who did not love him. We think the lover betrayed him with his mistress. All this happened, if it did, a long time ago. There is no evidence for any of it, except some old tales. We read like starving people, hungering for love and betrayal. Unrequited passion can illuminate a page or like a magnifying glass burn a hole in it. We love the holes.

We are stooges for love. One night a woman leapt to the stage where Iggy Pop was performing. She pulled down his red jock strap, the only thing he was wearing, and began to fellate him. He continued to sing, screaming between phrases, “You can’t make me come, bitch!” Why does art make us yearn for the soul of it? Why are we never satisfied? You can feel this desire pulsing through closed eyelids, you can find your way home by it. It can burn a house down. We say the audience that night went up in flames.


Kenneth Fields teaches in the Stanford English Department and Creative Writing Program. His most recent books are Classic Rough News and the chapbook, August Delights. He is completing a book of poems, The Hunter Deep in Summer.