Entry in an Unknown Hand

By Franz Wright b. 1953 Franz Wright
And still nothing happens. I am not arrested.   
By some inexplicable oversight

nobody jeers when I walk down the street.

I have been allowed to go on living in this   
room. I am not asked to explain my presence   
anywhere.

What posthypnotic suggestions were made; and   
are any left unexecuted?

Why am I so distressed at the thought of taking   
certain jobs?

They are absolutely shameless at the bank——
You’d think my name meant nothing to them. Non-
chalantly they hand me the sum I’ve requested,

but I know them. It’s like this everywhere——

they think they are going to surprise me: I,   
who do nothing but wait.

Once I answered the phone, and the caller hung up——
very clever.

They think that they can scare me.   

I am always scared.

And how much courage it requires to get up in the   
morning and dress yourself. Nobody congratulates   
you!

At no point in the day may I fall to my knees and   
refuse to go on, it’s not done.

I go on

dodging cars that jump the curb to crush my hip,

accompanied by abrupt bursts of black-and-white
laughter and applause,

past a million unlighted windows, peered out at   
by the retired and their aged attack-dogs—

toward my place,

the one at the end of the counter,   

the scalpel on the napkin.

Franz Wright, “Entry in an Unknown Hand” 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

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 Franz  Wright

Biography

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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POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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