* tribute: franz wright

Fathers – Franz Wright

Oh build a special city
for everyone who wishes
to die, where
they might help one another out
and never feel ashamed
maybe make a friend,
etc.
You
who created the stars and the sea
come down, come down
in spirit, fashion
a new heart
in me, create
me again-
Homeless in Manhattan
the winter of your dying
I didnt have a lot of time
to think about it, trying
to stay alive
To me
it was just the next interesting thing you would do-
that is how cold it was
and how often I walked to the edge of the actual
river to join you

***

that is how cold it was –

The turn into this line alone changed the landscape of poetic possibilities for me. I remember holding the book – Walking to Martha’s Vineyard – as if struck by lightning. How to make an already intimate tone cut deeper? It was summer 2011 and I had been working on the series of poems that became my first chapbook, The Wall. There’s a certain bracing of the soul that comes from great poetry. Franz Wright braced me to begin the work of risk and honesty that I continue on this day. *

Wright’s recent passing stunned me, yet I was warmed to see on social media just how many of my compatriots found communion with him, either through reading his work or engaging with him in person or correspondence. I did end up sending him a copy of The Wall, and he sent back a revelation of a letter. For this kindness, and for the earned light of his work, I say thank you.

On Earth – Franz Wright

Resurrection of the little apple tree outside

my window, leaf-
light of late
in the April
called her eyes, forget
forget
but how
How does one go
about dying?
Who on earth
is going to teach me—
The world is filled with people
who have never died

Happy earthing!

Jose

* To read more about the making of The Wall, go here.

photo source: iO Poetry

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