One Poem by William Wright

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To a Minor Chinese Poet of the Kunlun Mountains

In your ancient and final hour,
when the moon scraped the horizon,
no longer a white fire
to guide you to the village of willows,

the ink had run dry,
your blood heavy, your spine
curved as the arc of distant lanterns.

When you sat, then collapsed into snow,
your strange verse fled
unperturbed down glacial streams
and into the starlit valley,

teeming with the glowing red fish
that drifted through your dreams.

So it is true no politicians ever championed
your scrolls that flashed
like dying stars
on which the eight immortals cast
their narrow immutable gaze.

So the villagers of Xinjiang
still swing their lanterns
against the dark woods, hungry.




William WrightWilliam Wright is author or editor of over 20 editions of poetry and author of the forthcoming novel, Blight. Wright won the 2019 Appalachian Book of the Year in Poetry for Specter Mountain, a collaborative book of poems (written with Jesse Graves); the 2016 Georgia Author of the Year from the Georgia Writers Association, and his fifth volume of The Southern Poetry Anthology was listed as “20 books all Georgians should read” by the Georgia Center for the Book. He has recently published in The Kenyon ReviewOxford AmericanThe Antioch ReviewShenandoah, and Southern Poetry Review.

Read more poetry by William Wright appearing in Terrain.org: “Boyhood Trapped Between Water and Blood,” winner of Terrain.org’s 7th Annual Poetry Contest (selected by Eamon Grennan); three poems; and three poems.
Header photo of yurt village in front of Karakul Lake in Xinjiang, China, with the Kunlun Mountains in the distance by Chainarong Phrammanee, courtesy Shutterstock.


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