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James Arlington Wright

(13 December 1927 – 25 March 1980 / Ohio)

As I Step Over A Puddle At The End Of Winter, I Think Of An Ancient Chinese Governor


And how can I, born in evil days
And fresh from failure, ask a kindness of Fate?

-- Written A.D. 819


Po Chu-i, balding old politician,
What's the use?
I think of you,
Uneasily entering the gorges of the Yang-Tze,
When you were being towed up the rapids
Toward some political job or other
In the city of Chungshou.
You made it, I guess,
By dark.

But it is 1960, it is almost spring again,
And the tall rocks of Minneapolis
Build me my own black twilight
Of bamboo ropes and waters.
Where is Yuan Chen, the friend you loved?
Where is the sea, that once solved the whole loneliness
Of the Midwest?Where is Minneapolis? I can see nothing
But the great terrible oak tree darkening with winter.
Did you find the city of isolated men beyond mountains?
Or have you been holding the end of a frayed rope
For a thousand years?

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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