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Wheeling Motel

Franz Wright - Wheeling Motel -

“Wheeling Motel” by Franz Wright: The vast waters flow past its back yard. You can purchase a six-pack in bars! Tammy Wynette’s on the marquee

“Wheeling Motel”

The vast waters flow past its back yard.
You can purchase a six-pack in bars!
Tammy Wynette’s on the marquee

a block down. It’s twenty-five years ago:
you went to death, I to life, and
which was luckier God only knows.

There’s this line in an unpublished poem of yours.
The river is like that,
a blind familiar.

The wind will die down when I say so;
the leaden and lessening light on
the current.

Then the moon will rise
like the word reconciliation,
like Walt Whitman examining the tear on a dead face.

~ Franz Wright


Franz Wright was born in Vienna, Austria, and grew up in the Northwest, the Midwest, and California. He earned a BA from Oberlin College in 1977. His collections of poetry include The Beforelife (2001); God’s Silence (2006); Walking to Martha’s Vineyard, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004; Wheeling Motel (2009); Kindertotenwald (2011); and F (2013). In his poems, he addresses the subjects of isolation, illness, spirituality, and gratitude. His father was the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet James Wright. He died in 2015.


Walt Whitman, “Reconciliation” (“Leaves of Grass, 1867)


WORD over all, beautiful as the sky!
Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage, must in
time be utterly lost;
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, incessantly
softly wash again, and ever again, this soil’d world:
…For my enemy is dead—a man divine as myself is dead;
I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin—I
draw near;
I bend down and touch lightly with my lips the white face
in the coffin.


More Poems

“An Horatian Notion,” Thomas Lux

“Samurai Song :: A Friday Dayenu,” Robert Pinsky

“How the Past Comes Back,” Natasha Trethewey

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