Christian Wiman: Three Poems for the Weekend

MetroNorth Train in the snow. 

Hard Night

What words or harder gift
does the light require of me
carving from the dark of
this difficult tree?

What place or farther peace
do I almost see
emerging from the night
and heart of me?

The sky whitens, it goes on and on.
Fields wrinkle into rows
of cotton, go on and on.
Night like a fling of crows
disperses and is gone.

What song, what home,
what calm or one clarity
can I not quite come to,
never quite see:
this field, this sky, this tree.
My former stomping grounds: Beverly, MA (Dane St. Beach, at the end of Atlantic Ave)

O'Rourke's Diner, Middletown, CT

"Hammer is the Prayer" by Christian Wiman
There is no consolation in the thought of God,
he said, slamming another nail
in another house another havoc had half-taken.
Grace is not consciousness, nor is it beyond.
To hell with remembrance, to hell with heaven,
hammer is the prayer of the poor and the dying.
And as wind in some lordless random comes to rest,
and all the disquieted dust within,
peace came to the hinterlands of our minds,
too remote to know, but peace nonetheless.
Union Station- New Haven, CT

All Good Conductors


O the screech and heat and hate
we have for each day's commute,

the long wait at the last stop
before we go screaming

underground, while the pigeons
court and shit and rut

insolently on the tracks
because this train is always late,

always aimed at only us,
who when it comes with its

blunt snout, its thousand mouths,
cram and curse and contort

into one creature, all claws and eyes,
tunneling, tunneling, tunneling

toward money.


Sometimes a beauty
cools through the doors at Grand,

glides all the untouchable
angles and planes

of herself
to stand among us

like a little skyscraper,
so sheer, so spare,

gazes going all over her
in a craving wincing way

like sun on glass.


There is a dreamer
all good conductors

know to look for
when the last stop is made

and the train is ticking cool,
some lover, loner, or fool

who has lived so hard
he jerks awake

in the graveyard,
where he sees

coming down the aisle
a beam of light

whose end he is,
and what he thinks are chains

becoming keys.

Emptying train car- MetroNorth- New Haven Line. Courtesy: The New York Times

You can read more about Christian Wiman here

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