Manchester – united.


Stephen Dunn Sweetness: Staying Alive

Just when it seemed I couldn’t bear

one more friend

walking with a tumour, one more maniac

with a perfect reason, often a sweetness

has come

and changed nothing in the world


except for the way I stumbled through it

for a while lost

in the ignorance of loving


someone or something, the world shrunk

to mouth-size

hand-size and never seeming small.


I acknowledge there’s no sweetness

that doesn’t leave a stain,

no sweetness that’s ever sufficiently sweet…

Tonight a friend called to say his lover

was killed in a car

he was driving. His voice was low


and guttural, he repeated what he needed

to repeat and I repeated

the one or two words we have for such grief


until we were speaking only in tones.

Often a sweetness comes

as if on loan, stays just long enough

to make sense of what it means to be alive

then returns to the dark

source. As for me, I don’t care


where it’s been, or what bitter road

it’s travelled

to come so far, to taste so good.


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