Pocket Poem: Charles Wright


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)

Posted in

Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. Hey, and that’s a pretty cool poem, too! Just enough slant rhymes, enjambment and irregular rhythm to make the end-rhymed couplet structure work for me. Good find.

    Thanks for stopping by.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.