Carl Dennis

The Virtues

The Virtues The Virtues

To practice the virtues, you’ll need to ask What a virtuous person would do in a situation Like this one, here in the health-food restaurant, After witnessing the young father, two…

Mar 24, 2020 / Books & the Arts / Carl Dennis

My Realtor My Realtor

When I tell her the dining room seems a little small, She opens the double doors to the garden And motions me out with a gesture suggesting

Sep 17, 2008 / Books & the Arts / Carl Dennis

At the Border At the Border

At the border between the past and the future No sign on a post warns that your passport Won't let you return to your native land As a citizen, just as a tourist

Sep 2, 2004 / Books & the Arts / Carl Dennis

The Summer House The Summer House

After a hard rain, a sudden clearing. Puddles shine on the gravel path Winding down to the meadow where smoky wisps Rise from the warm ground, low earth clouds That thin and vanish; and now The birds start up again, and the crickets. What if a happy life is only a long succession Of happy moments; if they come unbidden And the virtue that serves us best is simple readiness, Mere openness to the occasion, if the sycamore Swaying whenever the wind moves by Serves as our great exemplar, sage, and prophet? I hope not. I hope the efforts I've made To claim my life as my own and give it meaning Lead in the end to a happiness more alive And lasting than any that fortune offers Whenever she pleases, the random bounty Impossible to anticipate or encourage. My efforts, my patching of roofs and windows, The writing of invitations, the widening of my guest list, The mastery of guitar chords, the library work On the history of landscape in water color and oils, What exactly they add to the world of hills and valleys That the hills and valleys should be grateful for. And then this hard rain and sudden clearing, This low sun, these rosy clouds that I interpret As proof I'm included in the lucky flow of gifts Circling the earth, offering me a welcome Hard to resist, without conditions or reservations, With nothing expected of me, nothing to be earned.

Jan 18, 2001 / Books & the Arts / Carl Dennis