By Franz Wright b. 1953 Franz Wright
You do look a little ill.

But we can do something about that, now.   

Can’t we.

The fact is you’re a shocking wreck.   

Do you hear me.

You aren’t all alone.

And you could use some help today, packing in the   
dark, boarding buses north, putting the seat back and   
grinning with terror flowing over your legs through   
your fingers and hair . . .

I was always waiting, always here.   

Know anyone else who can say that.

My advice to you is think of her for what she is:   
one more name cut in the scar of your tongue.

What was it you said, “To rather be harmed than   
harm, is not abject.”


Can we be leaving now.

We like bus trips, remember. Together

we could watch these winter fields slip past, and   
never care again,

think of it.

I don’t have to be anywhere.

Franz Wright, “Alcohol” from Ill Lit: Selected and New Poems. Copyright © 1998 by Franz Wright. Reprinted with the permission of Oberlin College Press.

Source: Ill Lit: Selected and New Poems (Oberlin College Press, 1998)

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Poet Franz Wright b. 1953

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Eating & Drinking, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Health & Illness, Activities, Travels & Journeys

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Franz  Wright


Franz Wright’s collections of poetry include The Beforelife (2001), God’s Silence (2006), and Walking to Martha’s Vineyard, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004. He has received a Whiting Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for his poetry. Wright has translated poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke and Rene Char; in 2008 he and his wife, Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright, co-translated a collection by the Belarusian . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Eating & Drinking, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Health & Illness, Activities, Travels & Journeys

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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