God was listening, but even so I never told the truth in confession. If I'd stolen candy from Woolworth's, I'd say I took the Lord's name in vain eleven times, Father, since my last confession. If I'd been good, I'd say I took the Lord's name six or seven times. I knew the priest depended on sins to feel good about his job, but most of all I wanted to get back to the religion of the schoolyard as fast as possible, to epiphanous spin moves off the post and soft reverse layups. Thus I never properly did penance at the altar, two Hail Marys instead of four, a fast Our Father, maybe half an Act of Contrition or Apostle's Creed. I don't know why I never was afraid of God and his famous penchant for punishment. I don't know why Hell didn't scare me, why it seemed like some movie with special effects. Angels, though, were real, like invisible friends you could count on. I remember thinking angels could make a shot go in, angels were what prayers were all about. When my friend Brian said he was going to confess to Father Kelly that he masturbated, I told him look, no, don't stir up Father Kelly, tell him you took the Lord's name in vain three hundred times and were very sorry, but Brian said God was listening, God knew, and anyway he would be forgiven, that was the thing about being Catholic, stupid, your sins could be forgiven. I knew he was right, but I went right on confessing to Jesus Christs, goddamns, Christs Almighty, words I never in fact said, but words I knew were the right words for the occasion. Stephen Dunn died on his 82nd birthday this past Thursday at his home in Frostburg, MD. He was the author of seventeen collections of poetry, most recently Lines of Defense (2013), Here and Now (2011), and What Goes On: Selected and New Poems: 1995-2009. In 2001, his collection Different Hours won the Pulitzer Prize.