Thaddeus Rutkowski

Tunnel Vision

The light at the end of this tunnel is blinding.
The tunnel was used by trains
going from one side of a mountain to the other.
The tube is huge, almost a perfect cylinder;
the opening at each end is almost a perfect circle,
held up by fitted boulders radiating from a keystone.

You’ll need no light other than daylight to guide you.
And if you sit to rest and forget yourself,
you might be buzzed by flies, bitten by mosquitoes,
or visited by the bats that roost in the roof,
but you will not be run over by a train.
The rail tracks are long gone.


When you read your poetry in public,
do you want to make the audience cry,
or do you want to make yourself cry?

If the audience cries,
it may be a sign that what you’re saying
is very good—or very bad.

If you cry, you’ll reveal yourself
to be a sensitive person, one who cares deeply
about any and all painful things.

You should make a gesture, while you cry,
of drawing a bow across the strings
of the world’s smallest violin.

Maybe the idea is to make everyone cry:
you and everyone in the audience, all weeping together.
A good cry never hurt anyone.

Thaddeus Rutkowski is the author of seven books, most recently Tricks of Light, a poetry collection. His novel Haywire won the members’ choice award from the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. He teaches at Medgar Evers College and received a fiction writing fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts.