Feel Better

Franz Wright – Selected Poems

My favourite Franz Wright poems. All in one place 🙂

From: Earlier Poems (1982-1995)


I don’t know where they come from.
I can summon them
(sometimes I can)
into my mind,
into my fingers,
I don’t know why. Or I’ll suddenly hear them
walking, sometimes
they don’t often come when I need them.
When I need them most terribly,


All day I slept
and woke and slept
again, the square
of winter sky lighting
the room,
which had grown
What to do, if the words
disappear as you write—
what to do
if they remain,
and you disappear.


I basked in you;
I loved you, helplessly, with a boundless tongue-tied love.
And death doesn’t prevent me from loving you.
in my opinion you aren’t dead.
(I know dead people, and you are not dead.)


Now you’re gone
I’ll wait
for time to come
and tuck me in
a little white blank
and mail me
on this pretty wind-lights
I am safe
here in the darkness,
the gloating
of myself,
waiting for the sudden light
to open, its enormous hand
to sort me from the others
and raise me up
and finding me spotless, devoid of destination or origin,
transport me
to the painless fire
of permanent, oblivious



In real life
it’s the living who haunt you.
Expect, in addition
to moments of anguish,
the always-astonishing realization
of just how generic one’s most
deeply personal torments really are.
So learn how to be alone, now.
We end alone.


It is good to be loved but it isn’t essential.
The need to love is, infinitely.
Human beings routinely survive without love,
but we cannot survive without loving
someone or something
more than our selves.

The Weeping

He has considered weeping, only he can’t even bring himself to
take a stab at it. He just can’t cry— it is terrible to cry
when you’re by yourself, because what then?
Nothing is solved,
nobody comes;
even solitary children understand. This
apparent respite, apparent quenching
of the need to be befriended
might (much like love in later years) leave you
lonelier than when you were merely alone?


Striking the table it seems to impose
silence on all metaphysics.
Yet touching the word sun in braille
or switching on a lamp, the hand
is clearly the mind’s glove,
its sister, its ghostly machine.
You’d hardly call what I feel pity
as I watch it
light this match.
Yet it is the hand of the child
and the corpse in me—
the sleeper’s hand, buried apart
in its small grave of unconsciousness;
the hand that’s been placed in handcuffs by police;
the hand I used to touch you, once;
the cool hand on my forehead.

The Old

Their fingernails and hair continue to grow.
The bandaged eggs of their skulls
are frequently combed by the attendants
and friends no one has mentioned are dead.
A few of them wander around in the hallway,
waiting to be led off to the bathroom.
And these move as if underwater, as if
they were children in big people’s shoes,
exploring each thing in their own rooms
for the first time:
mirror, glasses, a vial of pills
with a name typed microscopically on it,
impossible to make out.
Their memories tear
beside places recently stitched.
When I get up in the morning I’m like them
for four or five minutes: I’m anyone
frightened, hungry, somnambulistic, alone.
Wind rustles the black trees once.
Then I grow young.

Night Writing

The sound of someone crying in the next apartment.
In an unfamiliar city, where I find myself once more,
unprepared for this specific situation
or any situation whatsoever, now—
frozen in the chair,
my body one big ear.
A big ear crawling up a wall.
In the room where I quietly rave and gesticulate— and no one must hear me!— alone until sleep:
my life a bombed site turning green again.
The sound of someone crying.

Forgotten in an Old Notebook

Outside the leaves are quiet
as their shade. Hidden
inside them a bird is waiting
for it to get dark
to try its goodnight voice.
I have just looked in the mirror,
and come and sat down at the table.
What happens to our faces?

Beginning of November

The light is winter light.
You’ve already felt it
before you can open your eyes,
and now it’s too late
to prepare yourself
for this gray originless
sorrow that’s filling the room.
It’s not winter.
The light
is. The light is
winter light,
and you’re alone.
At last you get up:
and suddenly notice you’re holding
your body without the heart
to curse its lonely life, it’s suffering
from cold and from the winter
light that fills the room
like fear. And all at once you hug it tight,
the way you might hug
somebody you hate,
if he came to you in tears.

The Lemon Grove

In the windless one hundred degrees of eleven,
in the faintly sweet shade
of the grove just past town,
every day I would go to my tree
and sit down
with my back to it, open the notebook
and drunk with inspiration commence
It was demonstrated to me there
that nothing in the world can be described.
All attempts at pronouncing a place you loved
will have to be abandoned, oh
the ways the bright molested child has found to pass
his eerie day. And I began to learn.
(There are hidden things waiting
to utter anyone who needs them.)
After days of frustration verging
on blackout some things I saw and felt there became,
in what was once their botched depiction of a place,
a place, and the saying of it into being
the power of loving precisely what is.


To be able to say it: rose, oak, the stars.
And not to be blind!
Just to be here
for one day, only
to breathe and know when you lie down
you will keep on breathing;
to cast a reflection—,
oh, to have hands
even if they are a little damaged,
even if the fingers
leave no prints.