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Print Poetry October 11, 1997
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James Wright
Above the River: The Complete Poems
1990

Just as expatriate James Joyce's prose immortalized his native Ireland, the poems of James Wright capture, almost perfectly, the Ohio from which Wright had exiled himself.

Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio

In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
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 starved pullets,
Dying for love.

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

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