Day 28 – 30 Days, 30 Readings: Mark Strand, “The Tunnel”

Mark Strand
Mark Strand

For today, another modern American poet. Some think he’s rather dark. He prefers to say “evenly lit.” I agree with him. He’s a master of surrealism and has a measured sense of phrasing that I like very much.

Mark Strand is one of those poets who reads his work the way I hear it in my head. If you listen to tonight’s reading while following along with the poem, and then you go to and follow along as you listen to the audio of him reading “From the Long Sad Party,” you will notice that he treats line endings the way I do. That wasn’t planned. I did not attempt to imitate the professor’s style. It just seemed laid out that way to me. I discovered the similarity after the fact, which was quite a boost for my ego when it comes to my own theories about line endings.

But let’s talk about that in a future post. You have the illustration for now, and if you want we could chat about it in the comments, but it’s been something I’ve wanted to talk about for a while. Lord knows we will need material to discuss once National Poetry Month is through. For now, let’s listen to Mark’s poem. This one is another personal favorite. Plus Mark Strand has a certain Clint Eastwood sexiness mixed with a collegiate style that is hard to turn down, don’t you think?

The Tunnel
by Mark Strand

A man has been standing
in front of my house
for days. I peek at him
from the living room
window and at night,
unable to sleep,
I shine my flashlight
down on the lawn.
He is always there.

After a while
I open the front door
just a crack and order
him out of my yard.
He narrows his eyes
and moans. I slam
the door and dash back
to the kitchen, then up
to the bedroom, then down.

I weep like a schoolgirl
and make obscene gestures
through the window. I
write large suicide notes
and place them so he
can read them easily.
I destroy the living
room furniture to prove
I own nothing of value.
When he seems unmoved
I decide to dig a tunnel
to a neighboring yard.
I seal the basement off
from the upstairs with
a brick wall. I dig hard
and in no time the tunnel
is done. Leaving my pick
and shovel below,

I come out in front of a house
and stand there too tired to
move or even speak, hoping
someone will help me.
I feel I’m being watched
and sometimes I hear
a man’s voice,
but nothing is done
and I have been waiting for days.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. solingenpoet says:

    Well i loved the reading but who was HE. Was it the part of himself he was trying to run away from. He ended up destroying his life rather than face up to issues…… odd feel to this poem!


    1. sonofwalt says:

      Feels like a star trek space time loop, doesn’t it? I like it because there seems to be some honesty about what we do to ourselves, how we become or are our worst fears.


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