James Wright

J
James Wright
At the Executed Murderer's Grave
for J. L. D.

Why should we do this? What good is it to us? Above all, how can we do such a thing? How can it possibly be done?—Freud
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Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio
In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.

All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home,
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.
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Beginning
The moon drops one or two feathers into the field.
The dark wheat listens.
Be still.
Now.
There they are, the moon's young, trying
Their wings.
Between trees, a slender woman lifts up the lovely shadow
Of her face, and now she steps into the air, now she is gone
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A Blessing
Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
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In Response to a Rumor That the Oldest Whorehouse in Wheeling, West Virginia Has Been Condemned
I will grieve alone,
As I strolled alone, years ago, down along
The Ohio shore.
I hid in the hobo jungle weeds
Upstream from the sewer main,
Pondering, gazing.

I saw, down river,
At Twenty-third and Water Streets
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Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota
Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
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A Mad Fight Song for William S. Carpenter, 1966
Varus, varus, gib mir meine Legionen wieder Quick on my feet in those Novembers of my loneliness,
I tossed a short pass,
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The Minneapolis Poem
to John Logan 1
I wonder how many old men last winter
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A Note Left in Jimmy Leonard’s Shack
Near the dry river’s water-mark we found
Your brother Minnegan,
Flopped like a fish against the muddy ground.
Beany, the kid whose yellow hair turns green,
Told me to find you, even in the rain,
And tell you he was drowned.

I hid behind the chassis on the bank,
The wreck of someone’s Ford:
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Sappho
Ach, in den Armen hab ich sie alle verloren, du nur, du wirst immer wieder geboren ....
—Rilke, Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge The twilight falls; I soften the dusting feathers,
And clean again.
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A Secret Gratitude
Eugen Boissevain died in the autumn of 1949. I had wondered already, at the time of our visit, what would happen to Edna [Millay] if he should die first.—Edmund Wilson
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To the Muse
It is all right. All they do
Is go in by dividing
One rib from another. I wouldn’t
Lie to you. It hurts
Like nothing I know. All they do
Is burn their way in with a wire.
It forks in and out a little like the tongue
Of that frightened garter snake we caught
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A Way to Make a Living
From an epigram by Plato When I was a boy, a relative
Asked for me a job
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Youth
Strange bird,
His song remains secret.
He worked too hard to read books.
He never heard how Sherwood Anderson
Got out of it, and fled to Chicago, furious to free himself
From his hatred of factories.
My father toiled fifty years
At Hazel-Atlas Glass,
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