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By Charles Wright

Clear night, thumb-top of a moon, a back-lit sky.

Moon-fingers lay down their same routine

On the side deck and the threshold, the white keys and the black keys.

Bird hush and bird song. A cassia flower falls.


I want to be bruised by God.

I want to be strung up in a strong light and singled out.

I want to be stretched, like music wrung from a dropped seed.   

I want to be entered and picked clean.


And the wind says “What?” to me.

And the castor beans, with their little earrings of death, say “What?” to me.

And the stars start out on their cold slide through the dark.   

And the gears notch and the engines wheel.


Charles Wright, “Clear Night” from Country Music: Selected Early Poems. Copyright © 1982 by Charles Wright. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press, www.wesleyan.edu/wespress.

Source: Country Music: Selected Early Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1982)

  • Nature

Poet Bio

Charles Wright
Influenced by his rural Southern roots as well as his love for Italy, Charles Wright’s poetry explores nature and spirituality. The author of over 20 books of poetry, his style has evolved over the years into what many critics classify as postmodern. Wright’s 1997 collection Black Zodiac won the Pulitzer Prize. In 2014, he was named Poet Laureate of the United States. See More By This Poet

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