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Authors: Franz Wright

Earlier Poems

BOOK: Earlier Poems
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ALSO BY FRANZ WRIGHT

Poetry

God's Silence
(2006)
Walking to Martha's Vineyard
(2003)
The Beforelife
(2001)
III Lit
(1998)
Rorschach Test
(1995)
The Night World & the Word Night
(1993)
Entry in an Unknown Hand
(1989)
The One Whose Eyes Open When You Close Your Eyes
(1982)
The Earth Without You
(1980)

Translations

The Unknown Rilke: Expanded Edition
(1991)
No Siege Is Absolute: Versions of Rene Char
(1984)
The Unknown Rilke
(1983)
The Life of Mary
(poems by Rainer Maria Rilke) (1981)
Jarmila. Flies: 10 Prose Poems
(by Erica Pedretti) (1976)

Pain passes for sunlight at some depths.

—BILL KNOTT

CONTENTS

The One Whose Eyes Open
When You Close Your Eyes
{1982}

In the Reading Room

Asking for My Younger Brother

My Brother Takes a Hammer to the Mirror

Nocturne

Trespassing on Highway 58: For Two Voices

Dream of Snow: Los Angeles

Arriving in the City

From Rene Char

Waking on the Mountain Facing Mount Konocti

The Earth Will Come Back from the Dead

Seeing Alone

Blood

Old Bottle Found in the Cellar of an Abandoned Farmhouse

Knife

Mosquitoes

Trakl

The Sniper

The Wedding

The Visit

Drinking Back

Initial

The Wish

Hand

The Solitude

Brugge

Morning

The Road

Those Who Come Back

The Old

Brussels, 1971

St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church, Minneapolis, 1960

Poem with No Speaker

Last Poem

The Brother

Autumn on West Lorain Street

View from an Institution

To Her

In Memory: 1980

The Journey

Home

I Did Not Notice

Lower East Side Dawn

After

Entry in an Unknown Hand
{1989}

I

Untitled

Winter: Twilight & Dawn

Rooms

The Crawdad

Joseph Come Back as the Dusk (1950-1982)

Quandary

To the Hawk

Audience

Alcohol

At the End of the Untraveled Road

II

Vermont Cemetery

Morning Arrives

North Country Entries

Birthday

The Note

The Talk

Ill Lit

Word from Home

Entry in an Unknown Hand

Duration

III

No Longer or Not Yet

IV

Look into Its Eyes

Biography

The Day

Night Writing

There

Poem

A Day Comes

Three Discarded Fragments

The Street

My Work

Coordinates

Waiting Up

Guests

Winter Entries

Going North in Winter

The Night World & the Word Night
{1993}

Illegibility

Occurrence

Pawtucket Postcards

Provincetown Postcards

Loneliness

Words

Forgotten in an Old Notebook

Gone

After Rimbaud

Certain Tall Buildings

August Insomnia

Jamais Vu

Night Said

The World

The Forties

Untitled

The Lovers

Untitled

Say My Name

For Martha

For a Friend Who Disappeared

Untitled

Time to Stop Keeping a Dream Journal

Lament

Midnight Postscript

The Winter Skyline Late

Clearlake Oaks (I)

Clearlake Oaks (II)

Mercy

The Drunk

The Angel (I)

The Angel (II)

The Angel (III)

Theory

The Door

Thoughts of a Solitary Farmhouse

Before the Storm

Tidepool: Elk, California

Untitled

Elegy: Breece D'J Pancake

The Spider

Bild, 1959

Whispered Ceremony

Train Notes

Rorschach Test
{
1995}

Voice

Infant Sea Turtles

The Comedian

Heaven

One in the Afternoon

Beginning of November

The Meeting

Late Late Show

Heroin

Rorschach Test

Reunion

Depiction of Childhood

Night Watering

Planes

The Weeping

Untitled

The Family's Windy Summer Night

The Leaves

Ending

The Mailman

Twelve Camellia Texts

The Blizzard

Mental Illness

Poem in Three Parts

The Face

Depiction of a Dream (I)

Depiction of a Dream (II)

New Leaves Bursting into Green Flames

The Lord's Prayer

Where You Are

Untitled

Black Box

Church of the Strangers

To the Poet

The Lemon Grove

Observations

Van Gogh's
Undergrowth with Two Figures

To a Book

The Disappearing

Place

A Place to Be

Boy Leaving Home

Acknowledgments

The One
Whose Eyes Open
When You Close
Your Eyes
{1982}
    
In the Reading Room

Since I last looked up
from my book,
another appeared in the room
seated at the long table across from me
under the window,
bathed in gray light.

I don't think he has come
to reflect on the lyrics of Verlaine.

The one who with tremendous effort lifts his head
and stares straight at me, and sees nothing;
the one who suddenly gets to his feet
as though his name had been announced.

So far so good, no one has noticed.

Below the readers' faces,
set now in the impenetrable
cast of people sleeping,
pages go on turning
in the silence, so much snow
falling into a grave.

The one with head bent, eyelids closed,
looking at his hands.

Asking for My Younger Brother

I never did find you.
I later heard how you'd wandered the streets
for weeks, washing dishes before you got fired;
taking occasional meals at the Salvation Army
with the other diagnosed. How on one particular ni
you won four hundred dollars at cards:
how some men followed you and beat you up,
leaving you unconscious in an alley
where you were wakened by police
and arrested for vagrancy, for being tired
of getting beaten up at home.
I'd dreamed you were dead,
and started to cry.
I couldn't exactly phone Dad.
I bought a pint of bourbon
and asked for you all afternoon in a blizzard.
In Hell
Dante had words with the dead,
although
they had no bodies
and he could not touch them, nor they him.
A man behind the ticket counter
in the Greyhound terminal
pointed to one of the empty seats, where
someone who looked like me sometimes sat down
among the people waiting to depart.
I don't know why I write this.
With it comes the irrepressible desire
to write nothing, to remember nothing;
there is even the desire
to walk out in some field and bury it
along with all my other so-called
poems, which help no one—
where each word will blur
into earth finally,
where the mind that voiced them
and the hand that took them down will.
So what. I left
the bus fare back
to Sacramento with this man,
and asked him
to give it to you.

Reno, Nevada

My Brother Takes a Hammer to the Mirror

{in memory of Thomas James}

One in the morning: my brother
appears at the back door.
It opens.
Lights are on.
No one is home. The murdered
eyes look in
the bathroom mirror:
It was raining when they buried me;
I traveled, I fell ill.
I can't recall shooting myself
in the head.
Have I said it
before?
It was raining.
He switches the lights off.
All windows are dark
on the block where he stands now,
the stars blazing on
the closed lips
pronouncing these words.
Have I said it before: night
arrives sowing
the mirrors in black rooms with the stars.
Have I said it before?
I estrange.
Light is someone.
Father?

Nocturne

I am the black moon, the blank page, the field
where they dug up
the blindfolded skull.
Think of the roots'
thin fingers
drawn so slowly, slowly
as the growth of hair through
utter darkness
to drink—
that is me.
I am the shade trees growing near graves cast,
the cellar door you have to open
like a huge book,
the bird in the ditch, its beak
slightly parted.
Sober, irreproachably dressed
in a black suit
or with long-unwashed clothes,
the damaged nails,
I come, the representative
of my own nonexistence.
I arrive with my eyes
of the five-year-old child
in a wheelchair, the light
from two stars
dead for a thousand years;
I arrive
with my voice
of the telephone ringing
in an empty phone booth
on Main Street, after midnight
in the rain.

Trespassing on Highway 58: For Two Voices

Horses stand asleep

White shadows cast in at their feet

It's here that I saw you last fall

Lost in thought huge heads

For one second

Turn as I pass between stalls
These vast barns house also
The owl and the moth

My nostrils dilated in shock

The needling mosquito
Galloping rats

Here I saw you

The drinker comes here
Furtive sighs
Float down from lofts

Propped up with your back
To a wall

A single rope hangs From a beam

Your legs
Partly covered in straw

The spokes of the moon roll across the broad floorboards

A light wind stirred
In the six-feet-tall corn

Your forgotten face follows me back down the road

Dream of Snow: Los Angeles

Toward the end of November
I dreamed that it snowed here

I dreamed that I rose from
the couch
where I had been napping
for weeks
with the lights on
I went to the window

*

As a child
in Minneapolis
I was warned at school
not to eat the snow

As a child
I was drilled
to get my ass up
and my head down
under the desk
where it would be safe
when the glass shattered

It says in the newspaper
airports are snowbound
all over the country

A girl in Nebraska is found
in a field
frozen to death in her nightgown
It will be 80 degrees

*

And I
will close my eyes now
and lean back in this chair
and watch the snow
blowing in from the north
over the freeways
over the emptied suburbs
over the gray waves
over the graves of the skyline
over the university over the Mercedes-filled parking lots
of the pale physicists far from you

BOOK: Earlier Poems
5.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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