Today has been declared Poem in Your
Pants Pocket Day by the Academy of American Poets: a chance to inflict share a favorite poem with friends, co-workers, fellow passengers in the subway, and so forth. To the Academy’s credit (and much to my surprise) they explicitly mention blogs and online social networks as way to spread the love. Oddly, they make no mention of copyright issues, so I won’t either, and if Charles Wright or his agent come after me, I’ll say the Academy made me do it.
Stray Paragraphs in April, Year of the Rat
by Charles Wright
Only the dead can be born again, and then not much.
I wish I were a mole in the ground,
eyes that see in the dark.
Attentive without an object of attentiveness,
Unhappy without an object of unhappiness—
Desire in its highest form,
dog prayer, diminishment . . .
If we were to walk for a hundred years, we could never take
One step toward heaven—
you have to wait to be gathered.
Two cardinals, two blood clots,
Cast loose in the cold, invisible arteries of the air.
If they ever stop, the sky will stop.
Affliction’s a gift, Simone Weil thought—
The world becomes more abundant in severest light.
April, old courtesan, high-styler of months, dampen our mouths.
The dense and moist and cold and dark come together here.
The soul is air, and it maintains us.
(Appalachia, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998)