James Arlington Wright

(13 December 1927 – 25 March 1980 / Ohio)


Poem by James Arlington Wright

I was only a young man
In those days. On that evening
The cold was so God damned
Bitter there was nothing.
Nothing. I was in trouble
With a woman, and there was nothing
There but me and dead snow.

I stood on the street corner
In Minneapolis, lashed
This way and that.
Wind rose from some pit,
Hunting me.
Another bus to Saint Paul
Would arrive in three hours,
If I was lucky.

Then the young Sioux
Loomed beside me, his scars
Were just my age.

Ain't got no bus here
A long time, he said.
You got enough money
To get home on?

What did they do
To your hand? I answered.
He raised up his hook into the terrible starlight
And slashed the wind.

Oh, that? he said.
I had a bad time with a woman. Here,
You take this.

Did you ever feel a man hold
Sixty-five cents
In a hook,
And place it
In your freezing hand?

I took it.
It wasn't the money I needed.
But I took it.

Comments about Hook by James Arlington Wright

  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (2/13/2018 1:26:00 PM)

    In those days! ! Thanks for sharing.(Report)Reply

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  • Glen KappyGlen Kappy (2/13/2018 7:47:00 AM)

    This narrative is outstanding for its brevity and power. No wasted ornament, no unnecessary sentimentality. Just the story of a surprising act of kindness. I’m reminded of a once-popular bumper sticker which read

    Practice random acts of kindness
    and senseless acts of beauty.


    0 person liked.
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Read poems about / on: money, hunting, woman, wind, snow, rose, home, time, god, women

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003