Poems by Charles and James Wright


Clear night, thumb-top of a moon, a back-lit sky.

Moon-fingers lay down their same routine

on the side deck and the threshold, the white keys

and the black keys.

Bird hush and bird song.  A cassia flower falls.

I want to be bruised by God.

I want to be strung up in a strong light and singled out.

I wanted to be stretched, like music wrung from a dropped seed.

I want to be entered and picked clean.

And the wind says “What?” to me.

And the castor beans, with their little earrings of death,

say “What?” to me.

And the stars start out on their cold slide through the dark.

And the gears notch and the engines wheel.


–Charles Wright 1983





The moon drops one or two feathers into the field.

The dark wheat listens.

Be still.


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

wholly, into the air.

I stand alone by an elder tree, I do not dare breathe

or move.

I listen.

The wheat leans back toward its own darkness,

and I lean toward mine.


–James Wright 1971


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