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Authors: Franz Wright

Earlier Poems

BOOK: Earlier Poems
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God's Silence
Walking to Martha's Vineyard
The Beforelife
Rorschach Test
The Night World & the Word Night
Entry in an Unknown Hand
The One Whose Eyes Open When You Close Your Eyes
The Earth Without You


The Unknown Rilke: Expanded Edition
No Siege Is Absolute: Versions of Rene Char
The Unknown Rilke
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.



The One Whose Eyes Open
When You Close Your Eyes

In the Reading Room

Asking for My Younger Brother

My Brother Takes a Hammer to the Mirror


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


Old Bottle Found in the Cellar of an Abandoned Farmhouse




The Sniper

The Wedding

The Visit

Drinking Back


The Wish


The Solitude



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


I Did Not Notice

Lower East Side Dawn


Entry in an Unknown Hand



Winter: Twilight & Dawn


The Crawdad

Joseph Come Back as the Dusk (1950-1982)


To the Hawk



At the End of the Untraveled Road


Vermont Cemetery

Morning Arrives

North Country Entries


The Note

The Talk

Ill Lit

Word from Home

Entry in an Unknown Hand



No Longer or Not Yet


Look into Its Eyes


The Day

Night Writing



A Day Comes

Three Discarded Fragments

The Street

My Work


Waiting Up


Winter Entries

Going North in Winter

The Night World & the Word Night



Pawtucket Postcards

Provincetown Postcards



Forgotten in an Old Notebook


After Rimbaud

Certain Tall Buildings

August Insomnia

Jamais Vu

Night Said

The World

The Forties


The Lovers


Say My Name

For Martha

For a Friend Who Disappeared


Time to Stop Keeping a Dream Journal


Midnight Postscript

The Winter Skyline Late

Clearlake Oaks (I)

Clearlake Oaks (II)


The Drunk

The Angel (I)

The Angel (II)

The Angel (III)


The Door

Thoughts of a Solitary Farmhouse

Before the Storm

Tidepool: Elk, California


Elegy: Breece D'J Pancake

The Spider

Bild, 1959

Whispered Ceremony

Train Notes

Rorschach Test


Infant Sea Turtles

The Comedian


One in the Afternoon

Beginning of November

The Meeting

Late Late Show


Rorschach Test


Depiction of Childhood

Night Watering


The Weeping


The Family's Windy Summer Night

The Leaves


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


Black Box

Church of the Strangers

To the Poet

The Lemon Grove


Van Gogh's
Undergrowth with Two Figures

To a Book

The Disappearing


A Place to Be

Boy Leaving Home


The One
Whose Eyes Open
When You Close
Your Eyes
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,
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
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.


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

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