Sunday, October 3, 2010

Poem of the Week: "Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio," by James Wright

It's October, which means I can finally post one of my favorite short poems, "Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio." I'm a huge James Wright fan, and this is one of his poems I love best. It manages to say a lot in just a few short lines, and the empty spaces are as important as the words themselves.

The posting of this poem is also inspired by my recent obsession with the TV show Friday Night Lights. I think it's one of the best-written and acted shows on television, and I don't think I've ever seen a TV show get down the feel of a small town better than this one. It's one of those perfect shows that somehow exists outside of audience or network influence. I love it, and the football theme brought this poem to mind at once.

Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio, by James Wright

In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Titonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.
All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like stared pullets,
Dying for love.

Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.

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