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Biography In The First Person

 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 by smiling.
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 that simple.
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.
Be careful: 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.

Poem by Stephen Dunn
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Book: Shattered Sighs