Why does each evening up here
always, in summer, seem to be
The way — as it does, with the light knifing low from right to left —
It will be on the next to last one?

The next-to-last one for me, I mean.
There is no music involved
so it must be the light, and its bright blade.
The last one, of course, will be dark.
And the knife will be dark too.

Charles Wright


"This World Is Not My Home, I’m Only Passing Through"

The more you say, the more mistakes you’ll make,
so keep it simple.
No one arrives without leaving soon.
This blue-eyed, green-footed world –
hello, Goldie, goodbye.

We won’t meet again. So what?
The rust will remain in the trees,
and the pine needles stretch their necks.
Their tiny necks, and the sunlight will snore in the limp grass.

Charles Wright

Homage to What’s-His-Name

Ah, description, of all the arts the least appreciated.
Well, it’s just this and it’s just that,
someone will point out.
Exactly. It’s just this and it’s just that and nothing other.

From landscape to unsuppressed conjunction, it’s only itself.
No missteps, no misreading.
And what’s more metaphysical than that,
The world in its proper posture, on all fours, drinking the sweet water?

Charles Wright


Now the man has a child
He knows all the names
of the local dogs.


Zen priest,
Meditation finished,
Looking for fleas.


When its of his wife
A fellow’s afraid,
The money rolls in.


Patching up a row,
It returns to normal:
his wife’s voice.


Opening the door –
‘Oh! oh! oh!’
Snow morning.


A horse farts:
four or five suffer
On the ferry-boat.


If it could be wrapped
Water would make a fine
Present from Kyoto.

Two Wrights


The metaphysics of the quotidian was what he was after:
A little dew on the sunrise grass,
A drop of blood in the evening trees,
a drop of fire.

If you don’t shine you are darkness.
The future is merciless,
everyone’s name inscribed
On the flyleaf of the book of snow.

Cowboy Up

There comes a time in one’s life when one wants time
a lot of time, with inanimate things.

Not ultimate inanimate things,
Of course, but mute things,
beautiful, untalkbackable wise things.
That’s wishful thinking, cowboy.

Still, I’d like to see the river of stars
fall noiselessly through the nine heavens for once,
But the world’s weight, and the world’s welter, speak big talk and
big confusion.

Charles Wright


Of this house I know the backwindow
lodges six housesparrows in the bricks

Under the sill, and they are the birds
scour these roofs all winter for warmth

Or whatever. Two are arguing now
for a few inches of position on a cornice.

How the mind moves out and lights on things
when the I is only a glass for seeing:

I stand at the window

Setting down each bird, roof, chimney
as the boundaries of the neighbourhood they make.

I have on an old blue jersey.
Every two hours I wipe off my glasses.

Tom Clark


I wish I had the capacity
to see through my own death.
Some flash light, some force of flame
Picking out diamond points
of falling leaves and the river of stars.

This is the year I’m scraping the ice away from its sidewalks.
This is the year I’ve slid its shoes off.
This is the year I’ve started to keep it company,
and comb its hair.

Charles Wright

Above Pate Valley

We finished clearing the last
Section of trail by noon,
High on the ridge-side
Two thousand feet above the creek –
Reached the pass, went on
Beyond the white pine groves,
Granite shoulders, to a small
Green meadow watered by the snow,
Edged with Aspen – sun
Straight high and blazing
But the air was cool.
Ate a cold fried trout in the
Trembling shadows. I spied
A glitter, and found a flake
Black volcanic glass – obsidian –
By a flower. Hands and knees
Pushing the Bear grass, thousands
Of arrowhead leavings over a
Hundred yards. Not one good
Head, just razor flakes
On a hill snowed all but summer,
A land of fat summer dear,
They came to camp. On their
Own trails. I followed my own
Trail here. Picked up the cold-drill,
Pick, singlejack, and sack
Of dynamite.
Ten thousand years.

Gary Snyder


When the elephant’s-ear in the park
Shrivelled in frost,
And the leaves on the paths
Ran like rats,
Your lamp light fell
On shining pillows,
Of sea-shades and sky-shades
Like umbrellas in Java.

Wallace Stevens