Gretchen Warren Award, selected by Donald Vincent
Winning Poet: Leslie McGrath, “Encountering Franz Wright Along the Way”
Encountering Franz Wright Along the Way
I had been dawdling I don’t know how long
In the placid dark after the rash of day had receded.
I found an anvil-shaped stone in a field overlooking the road
And thinking I was alone, made audible the speech
I knew not to share with any person for fear of frightening them.
I lay back on that stone, turning away from the trees, away
From their ceaseless industry, toward the everything I could not see
But pretended to. He appeared on the smooth cheek of the sky,
The raw edge of a raw edge, alarming the stars into stillness.
“Don’t be so much at the mercy of things”, he boomed
But as I began to utter a polite fuck off, the sky behind him
The night sky, flashed emerald. This, his lucid recognition
Of the unabating shame made flesh in me. If he said more
Before he meteored away, I don’t recall. All I heard was mercy.
Leslie McGrath is the author of Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage (2009) and two chapbooks. McGrath’s latest book is a satiric novella in verse, Out From the Pleiades (2014). McGrath teaches creative writing at Central CT State University and is series editor of The Tenth Gate, a poetry imprint of The Word Works Press.
“Encountering Franz Wright Along the Way” was originally published by Academy of American Poets as a Poem-a-Day feature.