I am writing with both hands

Farewell to another great poet, Franz Wright (1953-2015). I posted this one several years ago and it still haunts me. If you have an extra moment, here’s another of his affecting works that I put on this blog last year.


I close my eyes and see

a seagull in the desert,
high, against unbearably blue sky.

There is hope in the past.

I am writing to you
all the time, I am writing

with both hands,
day and night.

this sudden fondness for my life

“Employ everyday speech to transcend everyday speech,” wrote Yosa Buson (1716-1784), the Japanese poet and painter who was a disciple of the haiku master Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694), and a striking writer himself. Today, I realized that in the seven years I’ve had this blog, I’ve yet to post the transcendent simplicity of haiku. So let’s amend that. Here are a few Buson haikus from the wonderful Tavern Books collection.

In winter rain
every place
looks like its past.

In the haze of the moon
arm my only pillow
this sudden fondness for my life

Some stars
although it’s not yet dark shining
over scarred fields

Deer in the rain
three cries
then nothing

Weary old willows
how long the road will be
when you are lost from sight

translated by Franz Wright

Nobody’s stronger than forgiveness

This Franz Wright (1953-) poem renders me speechless.

“Did This Ever Happen to You”

A marble-colored cloud
engulfed the sun and stalled,

a skinny squirrel limped toward me
as I crossed the empty park

and froze, the last
or next to last

fall leaf fell but before it touched
the earth, with shocking clarity

I heard my mother’s voice
pronounce my name. And in an instant I passed

beyond sorrow and terror, and was carried up
into the imageless

bright darkness
I came from

and am. Nobody’s
stronger than forgiveness.