Another Wright

I'm not sure what it is about this surname, but to my list of "favorite poets named Wright" (James, Franz), I have recently added Charles. I only recently encountered his work: first in the summer issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review, then, about a week later, on the new arrivals shelf at the Grand Rapids Public Library where I picked up his recent collection, Scar Tissue.

Wright does a wonderful job of capturing the colloquial in ways that honor it without making it "high falutin.'" I hear in him a chronicler of sides and spaces of American culture that don't often receive the attention of poetic homage. VQR very generously provides access to one of my favorites, "Cowboy Up" and "The Gospel According to Yours Truly."

Cowboy Up
Charles Wright

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.

The Gospel According to Yours Truly
Charles Wright

Tell me again, Lord, how easy it all is—
renounce this,
Renounce that, and all is a shining—
Tell me again, I’m still here,
your quick-lipped and malleable boy.

(Strange how the clouds bump and grind, and the underthings roll,
Strange how the grasses finger and fondle each other—
I renounce them, I renounce them, I renounce them.
Gnarly and thin, the nothings don’t change . . .)