FRANZ WRIGHT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEVEN VERSIONS

1. The Kiss

Massive languor, languor hammered;
Sentient languor, languor dissected;
Languor deserted, reignite your sidereal fires;
Holier languor, arise from love.
The wood’s owl has come home.

2. Beyond Sunlight

I can’t shakle one of your ankles
as if you were a falcon, but
nothing can prevent me
from following, no matter how far, even
beyond sunlight where Jesus becomes visible:
I’ll follow, I will wait, I will never give up
until I understand
why you are going away from me.

3. A Man Wound His Watch

In the darkness the man wound his watch before secreting it under his pillow. Then he went to
sleep. Outside, the wind was blowing. You who comprehend the repercussions of the faintest
gesture—you will understand. A man, his watch, the wind. What else is there?

4. For Which There Is No Name

Let me have what the tree has
and what it can never lose,
let me have it
and lose it again,
blurred lines the wind draws with the darkness
it gets from summer nights, formless
indescribable darkness. Either
give me back my gladness, or
the courage to think about how it was lost to me.
Give me back, not what I see, but my sight.
Let me meet you again owning nothing
but what is in the past. Let me inherit
the very thing I am forbidden.
And let me continue to seek,
though I know it is futile, the only heaven
that I could endure:
unhurting you.

5. The Composer

People said he was overly fond of the good life and ate like a pig. Yet the servant who brought
him his chocolate in bed would sometimes find him weeping quietly, both plump pink hands
raised slightly and conducting, evidently, in small brief genuflective feints. He experienced the
reality of death as music.

6. Detoxification

And I refuse to repent of my drug use. It gave me my finest and happiest hours.

And I have been wondering: will I use drugs again?

I will if my work wants me to. And if drugs want me to.

7. And Suddenlty It’s Night

You stand there alone, like everyone else, the center of the world’s
                    attention,
a ray of sunlight passing through you.
And suddenly it’s night.

The individual sections of Seven Versions based, loosely—some very loosely—on poems by Rene Char, Rumi, Yannis Ritsos, Natan Zach, Günther Eich, Jean Cocteau, and Salvatore Quasimodo.

 

 

 

GRAPE ARBOR

I don’t so much absent myself
as I am absented (worse,
there is no way to say it), only to wake here
once more on this planet all prison,
population: one. I step outside

and there it is: primary place I will never
again see your face, hear your voice, in the snow
the bare gray strangled grape veins.
Within whose rustling shade, returned,
I watch you standing, unaware of company

at this remove in time. And smiling,
then soundlessly moving your lips, sideways
snow picking up now;
this brown slashing tangle
of crown and gigantic dead bird’s nest

emanating an agony
into the world. The real world
where the first stone
is cast; and the others,
oh the others follow soon.

 

 

 

 

 



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