Home > Poetry > The Protean Man
Published: Fri Oct 15 1976
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
The Protean Man

for Robin Johnstone

Every year a new hat
with a new head in it.
It happens in June,
these ritual murders of himself,
these large, continuous births.
He shows up at our house and says
the man we knew went out of style,
and introduces himself anew.
Each time it gets easier for us;
he’s the new book by an author
we’ve learned to trust: we buy it
because we’re buying him.
This year he says “I’m going to build
houses and pursue the astral”
and we nod, knowing he’s serious.
“Wait”, I say, “til I get the wine
and we can relax and hear about it.”
“I don’t drink wine anymore,” he says.

See what's inside AGNI 5 and 6

Stephen Dunn (1938–2021) published his work in AGNI for more than thirty years. The author of twenty-one collections of poetry, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Different Hours.

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