where the writers are
One Great Poem a Day

I started this blog because I was alerted to the fact that people are unaware that I'm actually a poet(and not just another blogger) - so my plan is to post a great poem every day(not mine, obviously) and to summarize why the poem hits the target....Does that sound like a (kinda ambitious) plan? Alright. Holden Caulfield lives...let's go with numero dos..."Body and Soul II", by Charles Wright..



Body and Soul II 

for Coleman Hawkins)

The structure of landscape is infinitesimal,

Like the structure of music,

seamless, invisible.

Even the rain has larger sutures.

What holds the landscape together, and what holds music together,

Is faith, it appears--faith of the eye, faith of the ear.

Nothing like that in language,

However, clouds chugging from west to east like blossoms

Blown by the wind.

April, and anything's possible.

Here is the story of Hsuan Tsang.

A Buddhist monk, he went from Xian to southern India

And back--on horseback, on camel-back, on elephant-back, and on


Ten thousand miles it took him, from 29 to 645,

Mountains and deserts,

In search of the Truth,

the heart of the heart of Reality,

The Law that would help him escape it,

And all its attendant and inescapable suffering.

And he found it.

These days, I look at things, not through them,

And sit down low, as far away from the sky as I can get.

The reef of the weeping cherry flourishes coral,

The neighbor's back porch light bulbs glow like anemones.

Squid-eyed Venus floats forth overhead.

This is the half hour, half-light, half-dark,

when everything starts to shine out,

And aphorisms skulk in the trees,

Their wings folded, their heads bowed.

Every true poem is a spark,

and aspires to the condition of the original fire

Arising out of the emptiness.

It is that same emptiness it wants to reignite.

It is that same engendering it wants to be re-engendered by.

Shooting stars.

April's identical,

celestial, wordless, burning down.

Its light is the light we commune by.

Its destination's our own, its hope is the hope we live with.

Wang Wei, on the other hand,

Before he was 30 years old bought his famous estate on the Wang River

Just east of the east end of the Southern Mountains,

and lived there,

Off and on, for the rest of his life.

He never travelled the landscape, but stayed inside it,

A part of nature himself, he thought.

And who would say no

To someone so bound up in solitude,

in failure, he thought, and suffering.

Afternoon sky the color of Cream of Wheat, a small

Dollop of butter hazily at the western edge.

Getting too old and lazy to write poems,

I watch the snowfall

From the apple trees.

Landscape, as Wang Wei says, softens the sharp edges of isolation.




Immense, microcosmic,

     point/counter-point, Zen aphorisms,

yer eternal verities,The Four Quartets,

Music, distance and time,

Color, gentle claims of fact,

            The Earth

Youth and age,



Adios, y hasta manana, mis compadres en poesia... 

El Capitane...




3 Comment count
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a lovely poem

And a fitting tribute for a very talented musician. Thanks for bringing it to us!

One question: how did you get this template to accept the deep indentations of Wright's poem? I need to know how to do that!

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Hi, Evie -

               glad you liked the poem - I think it's quite stunning.I cut and pasted it, using the little word icon at the bottom - it must have had hard returns and retained them.

Don't you have some kind of Chapel Hill/Lucipo connection? I know I've seen your name around here. And didn't you read at Salisbury last year, when I was there for the Oscar Arnold Young thing? (I had to split - family and baby-in-law in tow...)


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I can't remember if I tried that or not -- I'll give it a whirl next time, or even try to edit the post.

As for NC, I was going to bring that up -- I lived in Durham for four years and W-S for another four and, yes, that was me in Salisbury! I still keep in touch with many of my literary friends in the Triangle and the Triad -- nice to add one more. : ) I don't know when I'll be back next (the closest visit I have coming up soon is a reading in SC in October), but when I am, I'll let you know so we might be able to connect in person.