Tag: james wright

James Wright, “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota”

poetry

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,
The droppings of last year’s horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk flies over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

* * *

James Wright has a way with an ending – creating this startlingly crisp twist that is sudden, confusing, and yet understood (see one of my all-time favorite poems). This is certainly one of his finest turns – taking what is otherwise a rather commonplace, lyrical, pastoral poem and bursting the magic of it with even more magic. A lesser poet might have ended on the chicken hawk line and called it a nice little poem. James Wright went straight for the gut and that’s why he’s one of the best.

James Wright, “From a Bus Window in Central Ohio, Just Before a Thunder Shower”

poetrywriting

Cribs loaded with roughage huddle together
Before the north clouds.
The wind tiptoes between poplars.
The silver maple leaves squint
Toward the ground.
An old farmer, his scarlet face
Apologetic with whiskey, swings back a barn door
And calls a hundred black-and-white Holsteins
From the clover field.

It’s a simple little poem, but it’s gorgeous and explosive, a teacup that runneth over. This spurs me on, makes me want to be a better writer so badly.

James Wright and Bill Callahan

musicpoetry

This poem is one I always think of when Spring comes around…I’d say it’s one of my top-three favorite poems, and on springy days like this it’s definitely number one. The following poem is one that always sneaks up on the first one in my mind and rides piggyback through my imagination, or the two of them are holding hands and wandering through together.

James Wright, “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.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

* * *

Bill Callahan, “Let Me See the Colts”

Knocked on your door at dawn
With a spark in my heart
Dragged you from your bed
And said let me see the colts

Let me see the colts
That will run next year
Show them to a gambling man
Thinking of the future

Have you been drinking no
Nor sleeping
The all-seeing
all-knowing eye is dog
tired
And just wants to see the colts

We walked out through
The dew dappled brambles
And sat upon the fence
Is there anything as still
as sleeping horses
Is there anything as still
as sleeping horses

* * *

Now if you’re thinking…man, I wish “Let Me See the Colts” was a beautiful, mind-expanding song I could listen to right now, well you’re in luck, because Callahan is a songwriter, and one of the world’s finest at that, and his band’s called Smog:

[audio:http://www.jacksonhays.com/music/headphone_love/10%20Let%20Me%20See%20the%20Colts.mp3]

Download

James Wright

poetry

I’m still in such awe of this poem that I don’t really know what to say about it yet. The magic of it has not yet given way to insight. The funny thing is, I always seem to “forget” about this poem until I read it again. However, I’d probably say this is one of my absolute favorite poems. Every time I read it, it still fills me up like a big good meal. A beautiful, beautiful, beautiful thing from the late James Wright. Enjoy.

– – –

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.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.