Three Poems by James Wright

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These three poems were collected in “American Religious Poems”, a diverse anthology edited by Harold Bloom. Something “to disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed” I suppose. (An expression coined by Finley Peter Dunne.) Click here to read three amazing poems by James Arlington Wright.

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Blake’s Let Them Hold You

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Let Them Hold You
by Asher Blake

Suddenly the warbler stops his singing;
taken like a message under a seal,
her milky thigh inked with a bird,
silent upon the white cliff faces
of her alabster thigh; off somewhere,
like a bird she is gone.
From some perch in the brambles
of the jealous gut
our songbird has flown.
In a swarm of parting,
my hand is nested in barbed wire.

The california highways wind
against the hills which themselves
sift through the sieve of fortune.
They are an armada of gauze
advancing without noise;
that bear silver horns to sound out victory.
They are a world that birds trash in death
but levitate in morning’s glory,
those blue hill bathers
cloaked in shadows, moving
like oars in a shallow sea.
Fullness of knowledge in a seed
so they may sing the entirety
as a cosmos in a seraph wing.

With fury I stamp my bed,
its bull backed hours,
and cast her bra for shelter
over the clockface.
And I tear the package of slavish
heraldry with my teeth,
open my root,
bite at my young manhood
and spill myself like fish eggs on a hook.
In three years I will go homeless
like deer through the city.

Come now you horned night,
black coffee sitting
like a delirious bull in the heat,
full highways will pass back this way
and the melons will be sold again;
and women worn down by sweet desire
make their rugged men drown,
stroking the sea,
freeform in passage;
and my sister
migrating in the West
will appear on the vine,
her grapes wrapped in bitter thorns.

The hills hold her in their lap
a world so flighty and blue
like another sinking navy.
I take my brush of turpentine
and revise the roads that lead away,
erase until my shepherd dog
begins to twitch in sleep,
and I, like Mars on a war field,
throne appeased,
reddened with the wealth of the country,
turn and color everything back in.

Blake’s The Night Drops Carbon

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The Night Drops Carbon
by Asher Blake

The bath of night is a shining pig,
the wicked drive into its teats full of hooch.

There is music forgotten by the musicians;
pagan orchestras
but they are heavy with milk from the sky.

The night drops on its children
like a weary blessing.

The night falls
like a rubber spider somewhere to force a laugh.

The night is a genie
for an ignoramus.
As the robber dons his dark
clothes quickly so we put the night upon us.

The night only falls
continually before us like a moth
as we speak.

The bath of night bedevils me,
drains between my legs.

She is pockmarked and porcine;
But I have smashed my evening tea set
for the music.

I swell with her like child.
I assume what we all assume, the night
before our births,
exhaling the holy cistern like a stream back into
my mother, or back into thine.

With all the locks of wisdom shaken
loose – hold my hand
or I will plunge into the black sleep
for dreaming.

Save me from the night it poses for a mug shot.
Save me from the future already black and white.

I am afraid I’ve read the black book
of night, for now she is naked
and I know her easy lies.

Still I marvel at the salon of women lovers;
how they labor with risen dead girls on their backs.
They swim on and on, as sudden as a flame
or school of fish.

The honeymoon does vex the spinster,
and the spinster intrudes upon their sex.
And the girls who dream
only seem to have good taste,
but tease their long hair
with wavy permanents.

Alpha and Omega, with stars in His punctured hands;
the Lord of sky and soil knotted His bandanna up
to disguise His feathered headdress,
blue and red and white with glory.
Sky is a holy mountain, the Sinai only He can climb,
black spangled in your paisley sigh,
your sunset’s exclamation!
My God has mountains
like darkened domes instead of shoulders!

Have you ever seen the reaping of the foil hat?
Have you ever seen the weakling lower
his head and plow into the Devil?
The Lord in His peaked helmet of night,
bends and plows into us now. Praise Him!

Aboriginal Poetry on the Milky Way

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From “The Unwritten Song: Poetry of the Primitive and Traditional Peoples of the World, Volume 1”
Edited by Willard Trask, Translator unnamed

Aranda
Central Australia; Simpson Desert, Northern Territory

“Native-Cat Songs”

The great beam of the Milky Way
Sends out flashes of lightning incessantly.
The great beam of the Milky Way
Casts a flickering fire glow over the sky forever.
The great beam of the Milky Way
Gleams and shines forever.
The great beam of the Milky Way
Burns bright crimson forever.
The great beam of the Milky Way
Quivers with deep passion forever.
The great beam of the Milky Way
Trembles with unquenchable desire forever.
The great beam of the Milky Way
Draws all men to itself by their forelocks.
The great beam of the Milky Way
Unceasingly draws all men, wherever they may be.
The tnatantja pole rises into the air,-
The great beam of the Milky Way.
The kauaua pole rises into the air,-
The great beam of the Milky Way.
The great beam of the Milky Way
Strips itself bare like a plain.

“How the pole of the Milky Way is drawing me to itself-
How my own pole is drawing me to itself!”
“How the pole of the Milky Way is drawing me to itself-
From what a far country it is drawing me to itself!”
“Let the Milky Way be tied around with many bands;
Let the dweller in the earth-hollow be tied around with many   bands!”
The pole of the Milky Way has drawn me irresistibly-
The dweller in the earth-hollow has drawn me irresistibly.”

The great beam of the Milky Way,
The dweller in the earth-hollow, is trembling with desire forever.

The narrowing sea embraces it forever,-
Its swelling waves embrace it forever.
The sea, ever narrowing, forever embraces it,-
The great beam of the Milky Way.
Its embracing arms forever tremble about it,-
The great beam of the Milky Way.
Set in the bosom of the sea it stands,
Reverberating loudly without a pause.
Set in the bosom of the sea it stands,
Sea-flecked with drifts of foam.
In the bosom, in the sea it stands,
Casting a flickering fire glow over the sky forever.

Let them sit down around the pole of the Milky Way,
Let them sit down around the dweller in the earth-hollow.
Around the pole of the Milky Way let them sit down,
Around the dweller in the earth-hollow let them sit down.
In their camp-hollow let them present gifts to each other,-
Let them sort out their bullroarers.

Asher Blake’s Texas Convergence

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       Texas Convergence

The Lord reigns in the root,
where the sweating neck of the she-earth
gilds the potters green blooming genesis.
A boiled yam is Blackfoot’s nose,
black with a thousand baobabs in it.

The bud of a thousand ages sparks in her,
of duress, of young spring hunger,
and she crackles
like the world beside the broad tan wadi valleys.
Her bark scatters birds; her silence lets them gather.

My girl only rests in anger,
when she lays on me like a wounded soldier.
And her warfare is accomplished
compressed, as a black professor
shining the foundation finds the footing

of the fertile minded students
broken-trunked and torn with
the collected aches of the shifting Texas soil.
She will not lay beside.
She would roll in asphalt in the road.

She is a thing of beauty imprinted with beauty;
the scale of her toes is built
to take the fullness of the field at speed.
The heat of the day her shepherd,
she the soot, the charcoal checkered.

Flies and drowsiness she hates,
but the butterfly air her wild thing, her fuel.
I tell her that the Lord reigns in a hollow,
shadow, our Lord who has stooped to us
from the Beginning,

and waits on an End. King without apostrophes,
Absolute, whose fliers have no cables.
Oh, still and blameless Spirit, caressing the bloody
Tree, thank you for grafting our many saplings,
black foundlings, into your Tree of hosts.