A Man of Letters

A few days ago in the mail, one of my best friends sent me a batch of poems. He’s a letter writer, someone who picks fine paper and just the right pen for a handwritten note, so when his letter arrives it’s usually something important, like poetry. As one who would rather e-mail than speak sometimes, I always stop whatever I’m doing when one of his letters arrives.

This letter contains photocopies of poems from Wesley McNair. He is, by far, one of the most overlooked poets in the U.S. I think he has at least eight books of poems and has one numerous grants and awards, and still you’d be hard pressed to find of his books at a Barnes & Noble. Pity, because he is such a craftman when it comes to shaping a poem.

What follows is a McNair poem, but not one that’s included in the letter my friend sent to me. For National Poetry Month (April in the U.S.), I'm thinking about returning the gesture. I'll pick out a few poems from a poet whose work moves me and send it through the mail--a gift that keeps on giving.

Enjoy the poem.


Go ahead and believe
that this vacant house
in the shifting grass

remembers those nights
when the husband's headlights
flew against its side.

It is only a house.
How could it know the wife
stood each day at its window--

that thin wall
between her and everything
she wanted--or hear

the dutiful child
taking apart and putting
together the same, sad

cluster of notes. Go ahead
and think that in the darkness
under the eaves

it is aware
of this new couple
turning into the driveway

to approach its silent door:
the frowning man with the key,
the wife amazed by the view,

their daughter running across
the roof-shaped shadow
shifting in the wind.

~ Wesley McNair


Brian said…
Interesting poem. I myself think that houses do take on emotional imprints from the people that live there.

Thanks for sharing his work.

Question; have you found anyplace that is hosting the April poetry month?

Hope your weekend is going well.
January said…
Hi Brian. No I have not found NaPoWriMo on the Web yet, but when I will definitely post it. You'll have to do the same if you come across any links.
jillypoet said…
Wow! What a great poem! I'll have to llok for him at my local used book store. It has a terrific poetry selection. I have a couple notes/lines of poetry started about a house, and whether or not it knows when you are annoyed with it. This makes me want to hunt up those notes and work on thepoem, as I am still annoyed with my house!
chiefbiscuit said…
Hmmm ... Yes I like the polished, economical style. He obviously hones and whittles his work. I'd like to read more of his poetry. Thanks January.

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